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10 Things I Wish I’d Asked During College Visits
This post was written by Alexis Zimmer, a freshman in college. It was originally published on The Prospect, a student-run college admissions and high school/college lifestyles website. You’ll be able to follow The Prospect on Facebook and Twitter.
I used to love reading about what to ask on a college tour. The lists ranged from some of the largest news sources to random blogspots hidden after page considered one of my Google search, and i used quite a couple of of their questions once i went on my own tours. I overzealously shot my hand up for each question opportunity. I weaved through the dozens of parents and their own notebook-toting children to get to the pinnacle of the tour line and, ultimately, I asked questions I might laugh at if I heard nowadays.
Looking back, quite a lot of the articles I read were from the attitude of parents, and while their intentions were genuine, the questions they encouraged students to ask weren’t really that relevant and even remotely difficult to find on a college’s website today. Trust me once i say it is really not important to ask what the common class size is at a prospective college or how the safety is on campus. Not every class is going to be 14 students small, despite the common, and, as I caught on after my eighth tour, colleges tend to have blue light phones. Crazy, right Instead, I might have asked what my tour guide’s freshmen schedule was and how big their classes were, and what their alert system was like for crime or other suspicious activity. On that note, I also think it’s important to see how often alert-worthy things happen, whether you Google it or straight-up ask the tour guide.
And here’s the thing, college tours are fantastic opportunities, but they are usually just as shiny as the pamphlets they send within the mail. You may see the newly renovated student center, the very best buildings the varsity has to supply, freshly cut sprawling lawns and an impressive, yet slightly over-done with school pride, dorm room. It is up to the students (and maybe their parents) to see past all of it. Because, yes, it is great to fall in love with those things, but there’s a lot more to a college than its tour experience. This is what I wish I had asked when I was a high schooler.
1. What is it like signing up for classes
This might be one of the largest concerns I wish I had when I used to be looking at schools. Getting the schedule you want at my university is type of like winning the lottery, for lack of a better comparison. Students get an enrollment date, and from there it is all about submitting enroll on the webpage the moment your appointment hits. The explanation I wish I knew what I was getting into is because your schedule ultimately affects your ability to move forward each semester, and it’s really lame giving up some of your buffer classes early on only to suffocate yourself with major classes later.
2. Does your school/state have a maximum credit policy
Some schools and states actually charge you much more if you take too many credits, so that is super important if you are looking into out-of-state schools (or if you don’t know your individual state’s policy). In my very own state of Florida, a statute was passed in 2009 basically states that there is a surcharge applied to every extra credit hour taken that was in excess of the entire hours required to complete the degree. I was only able to comfortably declare a minor because of slightly more than a year’s worth of credits I brought in from AP classes.
3. What was probably the most difficult thing to adjust to
Whether you’re planning on moving an hour or ten states away from home, you’ll have to make adjustments. Asking your tour guide some (reasonably) personal questions can really provide help to in the long term. For me, I found it wildly unnerving that my smallest class was a 60 person Biology II lab when I used to be used to classes under 20. I needed to learn new study habits and reach out to my professors for advice on the way to tackle the massive amounts of material they threw at me every week.
4. What’s the housing situation really like
Your tour guide probably won’t delve into specifics on this one, but it’s something that I wished I paid more attention to during my tours. I often skipped the housing tours in favor of something else, and i wish I had taken the time to look on the models and see how I felt about them. Floor plans really only tell you a lot. If off-campus housing is a more popular choice, see if you can find out why. For me, my school’s off-campus housing is cheaper, there is usually a shuttle system in place (parking is super inconvenient past 9AM) and there isn’t any quest to search out an empty washing machine, since it is within the apartment.
5. What if I fail a class
Here’s to hoping you do not, but it is a reality that could be all too real for you during your college years, so it’s important to learn the way your school handles it. Do they offer a no credit option (would not affect your GPA) What does a withdraw mean Do they offer grade forgiveness
6. What’s “X” department like
Asking this question is absolutely major-specific. Looking back, I wish I had focused on the biology and math department, since I am on the biomedicine track. My school’s math department is nearly entirely online, and we’ve got limited interaction with our professors. Despite what they boast, the vast majority of my learning has been done independently. That is where lots of my extra free time goes through the week. If yow will discover out more about how a few of the general colonial man wig departments run their classes, it will really offer you an idea on how you will be spending your time and efforts.
7. Where can I get food
I mean this past the normal “Where can I get a cup of coffee ” and “What are the dining hall hours ” You’re not always going to need to eat on campus, so ask about grocery options. Does the college have a grocery shuttle, or have they got a location on/near campus More importantly, can you bring your own microwave and fridge or do you need to purchase/rent one from the school Where do students typically eat around the realm
8. What’s the buyback policy for the bookstore
Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to make use of your school’s bookstore (a professor might require a weirdly specific text or coursepack, otherwise you might just forget to get books until it’s too late to order online). You will not use every textbook on the recommended reading list, and you probably never need that American history textbook after your freshman year. You might even drop a category and must return a book, so ask your tour guide or bookstore associate about their policies. Does the textbook must be unopened How many days do I have How much do they pay for used books
9. What type of student discounts can I get
This might sound a little shallow, but budgeting goes to be important once college hits. Does the college have any partnerships with computer companies, taxi companies, etc. Do local businesses give student discounts
10. Are there any major changes underway at the varsity
Some things won’t be openly advertised on your tour-like whether or not the college is changing major requirements, the parking situation, or dining options. You can too try to find the most recent happenings in a student-run newspaper, which is always an important thing to choose up!
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