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Asking Smart Questions in an Info Session or Interview

q4Many colleges will tell you that “demonstrated interest” can help move your application from the “maybe” pile to the “admit” pile.  That’s why I’ve encouraged you to attend college information sessions (see this just-updated post – events are in date order and there are many in the coming few weeks!) and meet with college Admissions Counselors who visit your school.  Interviews are great too – but you need to be armed with a few good questions.  So what questions should you ask?

q3Ask about things you can’t learn on a college’s website.  Ask the presenter – who is frequently an alumnus of the college or university – about his or her personal experience at the school.  Ask questions that illustrate that you have dug deeper than the college’s home page and have a sincere interest in the academic and social opportunities.

  • What do students do on the weekends?
  • What kinds of team projects do students work on together?
  • What internship opportunities do students have?
  • What are your favorite campus traditions?
  • What cultural and sports activities are available?
  • How strong is the Greek life culture?
  • How many of my first-year courses will be lectures and how large will those classes be?  Will TAs teach sections or will professors?
  • What’s the largest class you ever took?  How about the smallest?
  • What was your favorite class when you were a student?
  • What kind of students are a good fit at your school (and what students are not?)?
  • If you speak to students, ask them if they know of anyone who transferred out, and why?q5
  • Are students encouraged to do research in all disciplines?  What types of research do students conduct?  Do professors partner with students to help them decide where their research interests lie?
  • How has being an alumnus of XXX College made a difference in your career or in your life?
  • If you could change one thing about XXX University, what would it be?

Things not to ask:

  • What’s your average GPA?
  • What’s your average SAT/ACT score?
  • Do you superscore?
  • Are there fraternities and sororities?
  • What looks better, three years of student council or three years of a sport (or an instrument, or community service)?

These are all questions that can be answered simply by looking at a college’s website, or that can’t be answered at all.

Admissions counselors (and student tour guides and alumni interviewers) would rather spend their time with you highlighting the features that make their school unique, and learning more about you to see if you would be a good fit.

Have I mentioned this post with a list of lots of college information sessions coming up this month?
YOU SHOULD GO!

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