According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, many students do not ask enough questions or do thorough research before applying to a university. There is a lot you can learn by asking the right questions. Education experts recommend researching the following topics and asking many open-ended questions, such as:
- What employment opportunities are available to me after I graduate? The university’s admissions or career services office should be able to tell you about large employers nearby, which employers recruit on campus, and which employers are most likely to sponsor graduates’ work visas if you’re an international student.
- Can I talk with a current student or recent alumnus? Chatting in person or online with a fellow student is a great way to hear firsthand about what the university is really like, from someone who has similar experiences. Inquire about pros and cons of their university experience. Ask them about their experience coming to that university, and what they wish they had known before they arrived.
- What support services are available to me if I am an international student? For example, will the admissions office help you with immigration paperwork? Does the university offer English language tutoring? Do they help international students find work after graduation? (If so, they should be able to share job placement rates for your major.)
- What help can I receive paying for college? Ask the university’s admissions counselor or financial aid officer about scholarships or aid packages they think you might have the best chance of receiving and what the criteria is to receive this during your subsequent years in school. For example, you may need to maintain certain grades to continue to receive aid each year. Also, find out if you are eligible for work-study programs or similar opportunities.
- What is the cost of living? Even if your tuition costs are covered, you’ll still need to know what other costs might be during and after your time in school. Find this information by looking at a cost of living calculator.
- What’s the climate? Ask for recommendations on preparing for each season. This might sound like a silly question, but you are likely to get some great advice. After all, you don’t want to end up in spending a winter in Boston without a down coat or pretty much any day in San Diego without strong sunscreen!
- Can you describe the campus culture? It’s helpful to know about more than just what types of activities there are to do on and off campus. Ask lots of questions, such as: Can you tell me about the types of students who tend to thrive here? What are some good ways to get to know people as a new student on campus? What is the international community like on campus?
- What’s the best way to learn about the school if I can’t visit in person? Many universities participate in virtual college fairs and offer online open houses, webcasts, virtual tours to help students who aren’t able to tour campus before they apply or before they make their final enrollment decision.