If you’re like me and freak out when someone says “Do you have any questions?” then you’ve come to the right place. During my college search, I went on about 30 campus tours, and I am in the process of becoming a tour guide and an orientation leader at my university. If you are ever on a tour where no one is asking questions, it can get very awkward very fast. So, today, I’m going to give you 10 great questions to ask on your next campus tour. Some of these questions are also great for admissions interviews or any other time you are speaking with college faculty.
1.) What is there to do on the weekends?
This is a great question to ask. A good tour guide may already answer this question, but if they don’t I’m sure the rest of the group will be glad you asked it. Academics are obviously the most important part about going to college, but studies have shown that the number one reason kids drop out of college is because they didn’t make connections. Socialization on campus is crucial to meeting people and making friends, and if you’re a person who needs to have fun once in a while and enjoy your time at school, it’s not likely somewhere you want to be.
This is also a good thing to ask because it’s important to find out if the college is a suitcase school. These are schools in which most of the students live close by and a lot of people go home every weekend. If you are coming to the school from far away or plan to stay on campus during the weekends, you probably don’t want to go to a suitcase school. These college usually don’t have many on-campus events going on because most of their students are gone.
2.) Is this a party school?
Most tour guides don’t like this question, but they are also usually well-trained in how to answer it. You might be afraid to ask this in front of your parents, but it’s very important to know when picking a school. To be completely honest, every single college you go to will probably have parties. What makes the difference is how often, and where they take place. I go to a small school, so the partying only happens on the weekends and it stays far away from the campus. As someone who doesn’t like parties, I like this because it makes it easy to avoid.
If you’re too afraid to ask, you could ask instead if they have social fraternities or greek organizations that live on campus. Odds are, if there’s a greek row on the campus, there will probably be on-campus parties.
3.) What are some of the most popular majors here?
As a music major, this is a question that I asked a lot on campus tours. The biggest programs at a school can tell you a lot about it. From my experience, if the tour guide didn’t know anything about the conservatory or any of the fine arts majors, that probably meant their music program wasn’t very good. Tour guides are supposed to know a lot about the school, including the programs they offer. So, if they don’t seem to know anything about your intended major, that probably means it isn’t a top-notch program.
The most popular majors can tell you a lot about a school’s personality. At my school, their biggest programs are Health & Life Sciences, and the Fine Arts (Music, Theatre, and Dance). This was important to me because I wanted a small school with a large music department. I also knew this would be a good fit for me, because Nursing was huge major there and a lot of my high school friends were going into nursing.
4.) What kinds of clubs do you have?
This is a great thing to ask if you want to be involved on campus. I didn’t ask this question, and when I got to college it turned out that my school doesn’t really have any clubs besides academic organizations. I’ve found my way around it and still been able to join a lot a great programs, but I still wish there was more I could be a part of. If you’re someone who joined every club at your high school and love to meet new people, it’s probably a good idea to ask about clubs.
If there’s a specific kind of club or group you want to join, don’t be afraid to ask about it specifically. If you really enjoyed something in high school, like the debate team or SGA, ask them if they offer that at their college.
5.) Can I have a microwave in my dorm?
If you’re like me and sustain yourself on ramen and easy mac, this is important to ask. A large number of colleges do not allow microwaves in their residence halls, and it can largely affect how you handle meals in college. Asking this question is also good because it can spark a larger conversation on things you can and can’t have in your dorm room.
Your tour guide will probably give you a lot of information on dorms, but some other good things to ask about are if/how genders are divided in residence halls, what the bathrooms are like, and how big the rooms are.
6.) Do you have any study abroad programs?
This is another thing they might have already covered on the tour, but if they don’t it’s a good thing to ask. Some schools may have a sister university in another country, or may have various different kinds of international programs available for their students. If you have any interest in travelling, it’s a great thing to ask your tour guide about.
Another good point to address when asking about study abroad opportunities is the cost. Some schools will offer scholarships for certain trips, but others won’t. The most common answer will be that whatever scholarship you get from the university would also apply toward a semester abroad, but you’ll never know the answer until you ask.
7.) Do you offer on-campus jobs?
This is very important thing to ask when it comes to financial aid. About 70-80% of the students at my school have a work-study job, but not all colleges will offer these opportunities. Studies have shown that having jobs outside of your school can have a negative effect on your academics and social life, but on-campus jobs usually put the priority on getting your schoolwork done. I have a work-study job in the music department at my school, which is great because my professors are also my work supervisors.
Work-study programs can be very important for families that are struggling to pay for college. This has worked out well for me because I’m able to work a few hours here and there when I feel like it, and I get paid a decent amount so I never have to ask my parents for money. And even though no one works more than 10 hours a week on work-study, they get a lot a great hands-on workplace experiences that they can add to their resume when they graduate.
8.) What is the food like here?
This is one of the things that will matter a lot to you when you go off to college. If you have any kind of food allergy or special dietary restriction it’s a great thing to ask about on a campus tour. Tours will usually take you through the dining hall, but if they have shabby food the tour guide will probably graze over that part. However, if you ask them a specific question about food they probably won’t lie to you.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t let the food be the deciding factor in where to go to college because other aspects are much more important, but it’s definitely something big to consider. Odds are, if you don’t like the food, you are going to be spending a lot more money on a weekly basis for meals off campus. The food at my school isn’t all that great, but they are usually pretty good about accommodating people with allergies and restrictions.
9.) What is this town like?
The surrounding town/city can vary a lot from the campus itself. The university my sister went to was stunning and beautiful, but it was heavily fenced-in because the city beyond the campus was very sketchy and dangerous for their students. Another component to this is the food, shopping, and events in town. If you’re someone who likes shopping and going out to eat, you probably don’t want to go to a school in the middle of nowhere. Also, if you aren’t going to have a car on campus, you might want to know what places are within walking distance.
Tour guides are heavily trained to know all the facts there are to know about the campus and their academics, but their tour route script might not include much about the surrounding city. Honestly, if the town is crappy, they might specifically avoid mentioning it.
10.) What is the best/worst thing about this school?
Tour guides are trained to tell you all about the amazing things available to you at their school, but it’s also important to ask them what they might not like so much about their school. No college in the world is perfect, and every student could probably tell you at least one thing that could be better about their school.
I’m going to be real with you: if anyone ever says “I can’t think of anything I don’t like about this school” they are probably lying. Tour guides seem to think that if they say anything negative they’ll get in trouble or sway you against applying there, but that’s not true. I trust tour guides more if they are honest with me. Asking them this also shows you if they are speaking from their experience, or just reciting a script they are forced to memorize as a tour guide.
Want to Hear More?
Even if no one is asking questions on a tour, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Some people are just too afraid to speak up, or they are embarrassed by the question they want to ask. Tour guides are usually giving tours because they have a lot of love for their school and want to share that love with others. They would love nothing more than to answer your questions because that’s what they are there to do. Don’t be afraid! They are no dumb questions! Chances are, they’ve probably heard that same question a million times and will know just the right answer to give you.
If you want me to elaborate on any of these topics in later posts please let me know! I think I am going to do an entire separate article on the truth about partying in college, but if you have any requests just ask me. Let me know if you have any other questions regarding college and feel free to reach out to me!