To help you make the most of your visit, we've compiled a list of questions to think about as you prepare, organized into five areas that together represent the whole of a college experience:
- Student and Residence Life
- Student Support
- Careers and Alumni Life
As you'll see, there are far too many questions on this list to ask in a one- or two-hour visit, especially if there are other families in your tour group. Instead of starting at the top, use this list to help refine your own shorter list of questions that get to the heart of what's most important to you.
And of course, feel free to add a few questions of your own to your list. Choosing a college is all about finding what you're looking for.
Before we begin, a few words of advice:
Do Your Homework First
A lot of campus visitors ask questions about data and numbers during their tour: How many students go here? How many graduate in four or six years? What's your student-faculty ratio? What's the average class size? These are all important things to know before making your decision, but they should also be easy to find on any college's website (you can find answers to all of them on Bucknell's Fast Facts page). You'll only have so much time to ask questions during a campus tour, so make the most of that opportunity to dig deeper by asking questions that get to the heart of what you're looking for in a college experience.
What About Financial Aid?
Questions about financial aid also fall into this category, but for a different reason: The answers you're looking for are highly individual. On any campus you'll find students who pay full tuition and those who pay no tuition at all; it all depends on their individual circumstances and the scholarships they receive. The student or admissions officer leading your tour won't know anything about your family's financial situation, so they can only explain so much. They might tell you about the college's average aid package or scholarship opportunities, but you can probably find that information yourself on the college's website.
While you should ask questions about financial aid, your best bet for getting the answers you need is to set up a separate call or meeting with the college's financial aid office (you can reach Bucknell's at email@example.com or 570-577-1331).
You can also use the net price calculator you can find on many college websites (Bucknell's is here) to get a better sense of how much aid you might be eligible to receive.
During your tour, you may also want to ask about specific scholarships that might apply to you, such as merit scholarships for the arts, sciences or athletics. Just bear in mind that the tour guide can only give you general answers.
With that advice out of the way, here are some suggestions for questions to ask on your campus tour.
Academic Questions — What Are Classes Like?
- Why did you decide to attend this college?
Ask this question if your tour is being led by a student tour guide. There's no better way to get a sense of whether a college might be right for you than to hear first hand what sealed the decision for someone who goes there now. If there's any question we recommend you ask, it's this one.
- Is there anything you don't like? If you had to say, what would you change about this college?
Another revealing question that can give you perspective you won't find in admissions materials or online marketing.
- What makes this college different from other schools you looked at?
- What majors are most popular here?
- Are most classes led by professors or teaching assistants?
- Are classes mostly discussion-based or lecture-based?
- What's the largest class you've ever taken here?
- How large was your average first-year class?
- How much freedom do first-year students have in choosing courses?
- How easy/hard is it to enroll in a class you want to take?
- Are there any popular classes that always fill up quickly?
- How much room is there to take classes outside your major?
- Is it possible to take classes from another college (within a university) or get a minor or second major from another college?
- Is it easy to change your major?
- Is there an honors program? What does it require?
- Are there any capstone courses or senior-year projects all or most students take part in? What do you do?
- Are there any particularly interesting, innovative or unique classes you can talk about?
- How popular is studying abroad at this school?
- Does the school run any of its own study abroad programs? Where are they?
- Are there opportunities to do research or fieldwork as an undergraduate student?
- Are collaborative or group projects common?
- Do classes often connect to the community or with outside businesses and organizations?
Student Life Questions — What’s It Like to Live Here?
- What does an average day for a first-year student look like?
- How do first-year students tend to make friends and meet other students?
- What do students do when they aren't in class?
- Where do students go to study besides their rooms?
- What are weekends like on campus? Do most students stay here or do they tend to go home or off campus (or to a nearby city) to hang out?
- How are the connections with the local community? Do you feel like part of the community here?
- What makes this community special? Why do you like living here?
- Is there anything you don't like about this community/living here?
- Is housing guaranteed all four years? Do most students usually live on campus all four years or move off campus when they're allowed to?
- What are the housing options for students in each class year?
- Is there special-interest housing, like housing focused on a particular major or academic interest, students from particular backgrounds, or students who wish to pursue a substance-free lifestyle?
- How are first-year roommates assigned? Do most students get along with their assigned roommate? What was your roommate like?
- How easy or hard is it to change roommates if you're not a good match?
- Are there a lot of fraternities or sororities? How important are they to the social scene on campus?
- What are the fitness facilities like? Do they get crowded?
- What options are there for club and intramural sports or fitness classes?
- How's the food on campus? Are there a lot of options?
- Do the dining halls accommodate special dietary requirements?
- What local restaurants do students love?
- Is it easy to get around without a car?
- What transportation options does the college provide?
- Is the area safe to walk around at night? What kind of safety measures are in place?
- Do many students work on or off campus? Are there opportunities to find jobs that will help my resume?
- What are the big annual events on campus?
- What are the sporting events like here?
Support Questions — How Easy Is It to Get Help?
- How easy or hard is it to get help from professors outside of class?
- How often do professors have office hours? Is it easy to schedule a time to meet or do they fill up quickly?
- Is there free academic support or tutoring? Is it available to all students in all subjects?
- Is there a writing center to help with papers?
- How can the library help with research? Do librarians or other staff provide individual help?
- What resources and accommodations are available for students with learning disabilities or other special needs?
- What is academic advising like? Is it easy to meet with your adviser, and what kind of help do they offer?
- Do students organize study groups or online meetups? Does the school help coordinate those meetings?
- Are computer labs open 24 hours? Are they easy to access or do they get crowded at certain times?
- What health and mental wellness services are available on campus?
- What is orientation like? How long is it and do any onboarding activities continue throughout the year?
Admissions Questions — What Are You Looking for in a Student?
- What qualities and experiences are you most looking for in an applicant?
- How are applications evaluated? What are the different things you consider?
- Are interviews required or available as part of the application process?
- How large of a role do standardized test scores play in admissions?
- Are you test-optional?
- Does this school give credit for AP or IB courses, or college courses taken while in high school? How much/what classes are eligible?
- Do I need to declare a major on my application? What if I'm not sure?
- How easy is it to change my major if I decide it's not for me?
- What's your best advice for someone who wants to get into this school?
- What leads most students to choose this college?
- What sort of person wouldn't be happy here?
Career/Alumni Questions — What’s It Like to Be a Graduate of This School?
- What sort of help does the college provide for finding internships?
- Are there a lot of internships available in the community or do you have to go farther away?
- Are there any internship opportunities on campus?
- Are work-study programs available? What about co-op programs for majors like engineering or science?
- Is there special advising for students who want to go to medical school, law school or other graduate programs?
- What does career advising and counseling look like?
- Do many recruiters come to campus? How many of them are alumni?
- How does the career center help students identify job opportunities?
- Are career advising services available after graduation?
- What other help does the career services office provide?
- How many/what percentage of students find jobs in their field of study?
- How active is your alumni network? Is the alumni association visible on campus?
So there you have it — enough questions to keep a campus tour guide talking all day. We hope this list gives you lots to think about as you begin exploring colleges in person.
If you'd like to visit Bucknell for a campus tour, get started by exploring your visit options here. You'll find a menu of visit experiences including traditional guided tours and self-guided alternatives. Just as we believe in empowering students to create their own college experience, we also give prospective students choices to experience our campus the way that suits them best.
You can also get a taste of what you'll experience on campus through our virtual tour.
And if you have questions you'd like to ask us now, please contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-577-3000.