Parents’ Guide to Questions Students Can Ask About a College

girls asking questions during college visit

Table of Contents

Use Your Parents’ Guide to Questions Students Can Ask To Show a 

Demonstrated Interest in a University


Using this tool will help your teen ask unique questions that will stand out to Admissions Officers. Asking intelligent questions shows a demonstrated interest in a university. The National Association for College Admission Counseling survey found that 68% of admissions officers place some importance on how much interest is shown by an applicant. This is measured by:

  • The amount of contact between the school and a prospective student.
  • The quality of contact between the school and a prospective student.

Below are ideas for questions to ask college admissions officers, alumni, and anyone related to the university. These questions are designed to help a student craft their own thoughtful questions that address their individual concerns, areas of interest, and future goals. They should try not to ask questions about facts or qualities of the school that can be found on their website.

Questions About Academics 

  1. What makes your school’s course offerings unique? Students will learn the school’s approach to education and become aware of its advantages. They can decide if this is the approach they are comfortable with for college.
  2. What specifically does your school do to support freshman transition academically and emotionally? The freshman retention rate is a big issue in some schools. It will be nice to know how they ensure the transition and comfort of the first-year class. Do they provide tutors? What is involved in Freshman Orientation sessions? Are there mental health services?
  3. Who teaches the majority of the classes? Professors or TAs? Many college classes may be small but are taught by the TA and not the professor. How accessible is the professor after class? Do they have office hours?
  4. Tell me about the research opportunities available for students? Can students assist with research or summer programs?
  5. Is it possible to graduate in four years if you study abroad? What destinations are available for the student’s major? The student should let them know they plan to graduate in four years and don’t want studying abroad to keep them from this goal.
  6. What’s the school’s retention rate? What percent of freshmen come back for sophomore year? The national average is 66%. If a college has a higher retention rate, this indicates that the students enjoy their time there and feel supported. If the university has a lower retention rate, the student should ask why they think this is happening? Are they doing anything about it?
  7. What are your 4-year and 6-year graduation rates? The national graduation rate is 60% of students earning bachelor’s degrees take six years to finish. Only 40% graduate in four years. This means that 60% of students are paying two more years of the cost to attend college when they could be out in the workforce earning a living during those two years. A few students earn that degree in three years and save a lot of money.

Questions About Campus Culture

  1. Can you describe the types of students who attend your school? A student will find out about the campus culture to see if they are a good fit. Do they have a well-rounded student body? Students might be able to use this information when they craft their essay on why they think they would be a good choice for this school.
  2. What do students enjoy most about this college? How they answer this will tell students what they value as a university.
  3. How does this school demonstrate diversity and inclusion? This should include low-income students, first-generation students, international students, students with disabilities, and socially diverse students. What steps do they implement to ensure inclusivity? A diverse student body promotes personal growth and a healthy community.
  4. How would you describe the surrounding community? A student’s college experience will involve classes and extracurriculars on campus and the cultural interaction in the surrounding community.
  5. What do students do for fun? There is life outside of the classroom. College is full of fun, and this question will give applicants some insight into how students spend their no-academic time. The prospective student can also highlight their interests at this time.
  6. What are the misconceptions people make about this school? This allows the admissions officer to squelch any rumors that might have emerged or any qualities that are not true. Most students ask what makes this school so great, but this question is unique and leads to honest conversation.
  7. Does the school provide students with mental health, physical health, academic, and disability support services? Students experience challenges and various emotions as they face college’s academic and social rigors. The universities should have services to help keep students mentally healthy and on track academically. Are some of these services free? Which ones charge a fee?
  8. How does the university keep students safe? Campus safety is a primary concern for universities. What measures do they take to keep students safe? Do they have well-lit parking lots that are patrolled at night? Do they enforce the legal drinking age on campus? Is it safe to go off campus at night?
  9. Do you allow students to start new organizations on campus? This is a great question to show precisely what organization an applicant would be interested in creating on campus. They are looking for students who want to get involved and give back to the university and the community.

Questions About Post-Graduate Employment

  1. Do most of your students find employment in their majors after graduating? What percent continue on to earn graduate degrees? What is the acceptance rate for graduate degrees? These questions will help a student know which path they might want to take.
  1. How does the university support career goals and post-graduate employment? The student should ask about internships and opportunities to gain professional experience while in school. Do you prepare students to exit college and join the workforce? A student can talk about you their career goals and their plan for the future.
  2. Are alumni very involved in mentoring on campus? Networking with and learning from university alumni can open up career paths for students. This question demonstrates forward-thinking about how a student will take steps toward a successful career.

More Questions to Ask

  1. Are there any significant changes coming to the school soon? Most students will be on campus for four years (hopefully, not six), and it’s helpful to know how the school will make improvements. Maybe they are building a new recreation center or expanding the size of the university. Are they building new dorms and libraries and investing in new programs?
  2. What essays have you found most memorable? Students might be surprised at their answers. The admissions officers have read many essays, and the examples they share can add some fun to the interview. A good laugh with the interviewer is an excellent way to enhance their impression of an applicant
  3. Why do you like working for this college? Admissions officers don’t often get asked this question. This will give a student insight into the traits of the school that employees value. It’s a great question that shows an applicant’s demonstrated interest in all aspects of the school.
  4. What are you looking for in college applicants? This is a great chance to be informed about the other qualities they are looking for besides the academic admissions standards mentioned on their website. It also allows an applicant to promote their qualities and say why they feel they would be a good fit.

If you think your teen will benefit from this information, please share the following link that was prepared just for them.   Questions to Ask a University


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