Getting ready for college is one of the most exciting times in a young adult’s life. For many, this is the first taste of independence and the real world. Visiting schools makes it feel like the real deal. You get to see the dorms, tour classrooms, and meet faculty. This might even be the first time you pick up some university merchandise from the campus store.
With all of the festivities and fun, it’s very easy to lose track of why you are actually there. You need to find out if this school is a good fit. The college you choose is with you for the next two to four years, so you’ll need some concrete questions to find the right one.
What Presence Does Campus Safety Have?
Campus security, or the campus police, are there to keep students safe. Since this university will be your home away from home for the next few years, it is important to know how you will be protected. Asking a few safety questions during your college tour will give you an idea of how active campus safety is for each university.
You may think every school should have an active security team, but it really depends on the size of the school. Ask about campus entrances and how often the parking lots are patrolled. Will you be able to count on a safe campus to walk home from your night class? Does someone respond to the noise complaint when your neighbors are blasting their speakers at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday? Campus safety is just as necessary to consider as campus activities in your school selection.
What is the Professor to Student Ratio?
Finding out how accessible your instructors will be is a very important factor for your educational success. It only grows in value especially when you get to the core classes for your chosen field of study. To put it simply, the higher the student-to-professor ratio, the less time the faculty will have for each student. If you are someone who wants to make the most out of your teacher’s office hours, you should find out this information.
Professor accessibility and student ratio are also significant factors to consider when you think about your advisor. Your advisor is often a professor who will oversee your degree progress and guide you through your capstone or thesis. If you are looking for a school where you will be able to meet with your advisor often, this ratio is vital.
What is the Student Turnover Rate?
Just like a job and its turnover rate, you should be considering the school’s transfer rate. How many freshmen that come in each year make it to be a graduating senior without changing schools? More importantly, what are the reasons that students choose to transfer? If a university’s turnover rate is high, it could reveal there are problems they’re not advertising on their brochure.
Asking about student turnover will give you an idea of student happiness and real reasons people choose to leave. This could be as simple as degree options or something else like not enough student activities. You want to be hesitant if students choose to leave because they felt as though they weren’t getting a good education. Afterall, that’s what you’ll be paying for.
How Are Roommates Assigned?
One of the biggest pillars of the freshman year experience is the roommate you have that first year. You can either find a new friend for life or find someone you are just trying to survive the semester with. Luckily, each school does its room assignments a little differently. You’ll want to ask how the process works at each school you visit.
Some schools just randomly assign you with another incoming freshman. There are a few schools that match based on compatible activities such as sports teams or intended majors. You’ll also want to see if you’ll have one roommate or two. Some dorms are set up suite style, so if you aren’t sharing a room, you still may have a common space. If sharing living space is a big deciding factor for you, inquiring about these arrangements will be critical.
How Much of The Meal Plan is Used?
Most colleges require incoming students to be on some form of meal plan to the cafeteria. Unless the campus also offers restaurant options, chances are you will hear some unsavory comments about food on campus. The thing you need to ask your tour guide is how much of their meal plan do they actually use?
Even though you may be forced to have the meal plan, there are usually different sizes to choose from. It might be wise to choose a smaller plan, and plan for a mini-fridge in your dorm. You can also budget for snacks and off-campus meals. Many schools have an additional convenience store, separate from the cafeteria, where you can find some meal options as well. Something else you should note are the hours these places are open. You don’t want to go hungry on Tuesdays because you have a biology lab during the dining hall’s hours.
Finding the perfect university for you is exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. You are preparing to start the next chapter of your life. It is extremely easy to get overwhelmed by everything you need to get done and decide before freshman move-in day.
You no doubt have thousands of questions about college life and your education. Keep in mind, your tour guides are often students themselves, so college tours are a great way to get insider information. You can really see if the school is right for you. Remember to ask specific questions to find a great match for your home away from home.