7 Questions You Should Ask When Picking a College

A pretty campus isn't enough.

A pretty campus isn’t enough.

It’s College Prep week at Mentor Public Library. On Tuesday, Patricia Saddle of the  College Planning Center presented an overview on all aspects of the college-application process.

The last time Saddle spoke at MPL, we highlighted some of the worst reasons to pick a college.

This time, we’re sharing some of the questions you should ask when selecting your school.

1. What academic majors are offered?

This isn’t just a matter of, “Do they have the major I want?” After all, 50 to 70 percent of college students change their majors at least once. Know what the college offers and if it coincides with your career interests.

2. What organizations and clubs are available?

Yes, you’re going to college to learn, but you’re also going to participate. If you love theater—even if you don’t intend to major in drama—take into account if the college has a drama club. The same goes for karate clubs, intramural broomball leagues, jazz bands and whatever else it may be that you love.

3. What is the school known for?

Take into account a school’s reputation. It’s likely earned.

What are you looking for in a college or university? Somewhere with a strong alumni network? A vibrant arts scene? A school that’s as well known for its social life as its academics?

Research your colleges of interest and make sure they sync with your expectations.

4. Does the college offer what you need for your learning style?

Do you prefer individual attention or more independence from your teacher? Pay attention to average class sizes. It’s always helpful to get a current student’s impressions, as well.

5. What percentage of students come back for their sophomore year?

A school’s retention rate can be very telling. A high percentage of transfers and dropouts may indicate that a college does a subpar job of integrating new students.

6. How many students live on campus?

This question—much like our second and third questions—give you a sense of a school’s culture. Do most students go home or stay during the weekend? Do they live in dorms or independent housing? There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s a good sign when your preference coincides with your school’s statistics.

7. What does the university look like?

No, we don’t mean, “Is the campus pretty?” Frankly, any campus can look beautiful on the right day.

We mean is the campus tiny or sprawling? Is it urban, suburban or rural? It doesn’t matter too much if your campus is photogenic. It does matter if it’s in the middle of a city or if you need a car to get around it.

Our college prep series continues tonight. A representative from Lake/Geauga Education Assistance Foundation (LEAF) will talk about financing your college education. They will discuss loans, grants and scholarships, explain the differences between the three and tell students the best way to get them.

While the program is free and open to everyone, we that people register for it beforehand. They can do so by calling (440) 255-8811 ext. 214 or by visiting Mentor Library’s event calendar.

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