What questions should I ask a college admissions counselor?

Your college admissions interview is a time to dig deeper into the college or university you'd like to attend.
Your college admissions interview is a time to dig deeper into the college or university you'd like to attend.

When embarking on a college career, it pays to be curious. The more questions you have, and the more comfortable you are asking them, the better you'll be able to evaluate the colleges you have in mind. Your test scores, GPA and participation in community activities will have an impact on the admissions process, but a big determiner of how happy you'll be at a specific school, if there's more than one in the offing, may be a result of whether or not you're a good fit. This will depend on a combination of factors, from class size to the political pulse of the student body.

The best way to get a real feel for a particular school and how it measures up to the factors that are really important to you is to have an in depth discussion with the college admissions counselor. Brochures and attractive Web sites are great, but there's nothing like talking to someone who has real world information and insights about a school to really address your questions and concerns.

Being a good counseling candidate isn't just about asking questions, either. It's also about phrasing them in a way that will get a genuine and detailed response. Where asking about a school's weaknesses may lead to a diplomatic response that will net you zero new information, using indirection may be more effective. Instead of asking about the worst majors, ask for a list of the best or most popular majors. Using this tactic for a few of your questions will lead to answers that are significant for what they aren't saying, and that's where many of the important insights will be. Yes and no answers are easy to get from glossy pamphlets, but counselors can offer much, much more.

So, pull out a note pad and let's explore some of the questions you should ask college admissions counselors, and what to listen for in the responses you get. Remember, in the end, it's in everyone's best interest for you to find the right college for your needs, so don't hold back. First up, let's ask a few questions about financial aid.