Researching Colleges, Part Two
Last week, we reminded you of some specific things to investigate when researching colleges online. It’s important to screen prospective schools not only by ranking, location, student life, and other features that might be important to you, but also by how your chosen academic department is regarded by industry and other schools.
Once you have narrowed your options to a short list of prospective universities, now it’s time to dig more deeply into the operations of your chosen academic department. Contact one or two professors and ask them some of the following questions (depending upon which ones matter most to you):
- How much contact do you have with students?
- Do you feel that office hours are sufficient, or do students contact professors at other times?
- How would you rank the rigor of the program?
- What are typical class sizes?
- Is there opportunity for undergraduate research?
- Are there opportunities to study abroad?
- Does the department encourage internships?
- How have graduated students used their degree in the workforce?
- How much support is offered to help students apply to grad schools?
- Is a double major or minor possible in this department?
The above questions are just examples of things that might be important to you, but you probably have some additional questions of your own. When you contact the department, ask for some names of upper-level students that you can call or email. Ask these students any of the above questions, plus any of the following that pertain to you:
- Are students assigned a faculty advisor? Is this person accessible and helpful?
- Is it easy to find mentors among the faculty?
- Do your professors make you feel excited about learning?
- Do professors readily provide recommendations for grad school or jobs?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of your courses?
- Do you have any advice for me?
Interviewing faculty and students can help you narrow your school choices to a short list of top contenders. However, a campus visit is still the best way to investigate a college. After performing this online research, schedule a trip to visit the academic departments on your list, and talk to more professors and students in person.
As always, we’re here to help guide you through the college application process. If you have any questions about admissions, testing, or any other part of the process, don’t hesitate to call us.