In the Spring, I welcomed my first guest blogger and received a lot of positive feedback. Naturally, I decided to add a second guest post. This post is hosted by SPI Study Abroad so make sure to check out their site which I included at the bottom! Hope you enjoy this information and I welcome your feedback!!
Top 5 Questions to Ask On Your College Admissions Visit
Aside from choosing your future spouse or accepting your first job (the kind that comes with a salary and benefits, rather than an apron and a hair net!), selecting the right college remains one of the most important choices in your life – and trust us, we know how overwhelming this whole process can be! There are a few things you can do to help make the whole thing a lot easier on yourself, though – namely, learning to ask the right questions on an admissions visit:
Finances and Financial Aid
These days, a college education is one heck of a substantial investment. A recent study by the College Board reported that a “moderate” in-state, public college for the year 2014-2015 would average about $23,410; a private institution, $46,272. Whew! This definitely isn’t chump change, to say the least. Understandably, today’s college graduates are saddled with an average of $30,000 of debt upon graduation. Being smart about what you and your family can afford is a huge part of the college financial equation. And with multiple options for financial aid, it can be difficult to narrow the topic to just one question – you’ll undoubtedly want to ask about loans, grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and aid packages. But one key question not to be missed is: What is the approximate amount of debt that graduates leave with, and how long does it take them, on average, to pay it back? Understanding the financial risk involved at any given institution will really help you narrow your options down.
Surviving and succeeding during your first semester has as much to do with your living situation as it does with acing your final exams. If you’re a student who participated on a high school summer exchange program or long-term summer camp, you likely know what it takes to live on your own for an extended period of time. But for those who haven’t had any high school study abroad or camp-like experiences, living apart from your family for the first time can feel daunting. This is why it’s important to ask questions about residential life – you’ll be able to get a better feel for what your life on campus would really look like. Simple questions such as, “How many triple rooms does your school currently have?” will clue you in to potentially cramped living quarters. A question like, “What is the percentage of students who stick around each weekend?” will tell you about the availability and quality of recreational programs on campus. But one question hits the mark, and is best directed to a current student or recent alumnus: Tell me about your freshmen experience in a college dorm – what was the biggest challenge, and what was the biggest reward?
Most institutions now offer several opportunities for learning outside the classroom – these experiences help deepen student understanding of a particular area of study. For instance, students interested in studying Spanish ideally should look for schools that have sister institutions in Spanish-speaking countries (hello, study abroad for the same cost as attending your chosen university!). Other areas of enrichment may include internships, service opportunities, or research studies. These opportunities really help indicate the kind of relationships the university has with their community, business partners, and experts in the field. One good statement when looking into an institution’s offerings is: Name the types of outside learning opportunities provided, and tell me about their requirements.
Academics and Support
Colleges are now facing mounting pressure to produce graduates prepared for today’s competitive global marketplace. This is why it’s so important for incoming freshmen to get a strong sense of how academically rigorous (and academically supportive!) a school is.
When meeting with admissions staff, consider these two questions: What is it like to study (a specific major) at your university? You’ll want to press a little bit here, and ask for specifics. Are chemistry majors able to receive grant funding for specialized research? Can engineers participate in internships as freshmen? Another important question to ask admissions officers is: What percentages of graduates from here get jobs in their related fields upon graduation? Some schools boast of high job-placement rates; however, this statistic is often misleading if students end up in a job unrelated to their area of study.
About the Author: Founded in 1996, SPI Study Abroad offers high school study abroad programs for college credit in Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica and China. SPI’s interactive language immersion programs combine inspiring global leadership experiences, volunteer service projects, and exciting travel excursions where language and culture truly come to life!