College is about learning, and you can learn a lot about a potential college by the way it allocates its resources. If you're planning on attending a school with great science programs, but you happen to be a literature major, then you may be short changing yourself. Your school of choice should be able to demonstrate that your major is important. A few well-worded questions will help:
- What are the most popular undergraduate programs? This is a great way to see if your intended major appears on the list. Don't ask leading questions; just listen closely to the answers. If the stars of the curriculum are mostly in other disciplines, you may have a problem.
- Are freshman classes typically taught by graduate assistants or professors? What's the mix?
- How accessible are academic advisors?
- Is there an honors program? How does it work?
- What programs do you have that encourage faculty and student interaction? An involved faculty helps to promote mutual respect and a meaningful dialogue.
- Do professors have standard, posted office hours?
- What is the average freshmen class size? This speaks directly to how much individual attention you'll be getting. You may not think you'll need additional help, but core requirements almost always include a few subjects that will challenge you, and a little extra assistance may mean the difference between triumph and disaster, especially in your freshman year.
- Are there tutoring programs available? You may never need a tutor, but again, if you do, having one easily available may make all the difference.
- Ask about special facilities, too. Is there a theater, planetarium or art gallery? Be on the lookout for those amenities that are important to your field of study. Ask about the size of the library, computer labs and any other special features that occur to you.
- Either ask about or explore any notable past graduates and their fields of study, too.
Taking the time now to ask your college admissions counselor good questions may change the direction your college career takes. This is a time when lots of opportunities are open to you. Don't narrow your options by limiting your curiosity to a brochure and a few hurried or polite questions. You've got the grades and the desire, so go the extra step to get comprehensive information about the colleges that interest you. That way you'll make the best choice for your academic future.
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