Be sure to use this time to ask a contemporary any questions that are important to you. If you care about the quality of the food service, the amenities in the residence halls, whether the campus empties out on the weekend, where students tend to study, etc; this is your chance to find out. One of my favorite queries is: if money were no object, how would you like to see it spent on campus?
I think it is helpful to find out what the tour guide loves most about the college. This question can also lead to information that would not typically be included in the tour. You also might ask them the one thing they would change about the college. These questions give you chance to have a more personal conversation with the tour guide.
I think that it is most important to ask what you want to know about. However, you shouldn’t ask questions that are obvious in college literature. You can also ask the student about their experiences on-campus – how have they gotten involved, how engaging are faculty members, what do they do on weekends, what would they like to change, who wouldn’t fit in on campus, where have they interned/studied abroad, etc.
Here are the top three questions that you should ask a tour guide on a college visit:
1) Why did you pick this school?
Here are a few from your list – you better have one:
An important piece if advice is that, during your college visit, you should ask questions which you can’t easily find the answer to on the school’s website. It’s important to remember that your tour guide is most likely a current student at that school so you should ask them about their own experiences and why they chose that particular university. While you can certainly ask questions about the academic component of the school, it’s important to keep in mind that your tour guide might be studying something completely opposite of what you plan to study and may not have all of the answers. Make sure to ask questions about the social scene at the school, but again, remember that your tour guide is just one voice of many so if they say “it’s boring here” or “we party all weekend” you may find that there are others who would say the exact opposite.
Ask the tour guide questions that concern you, where the answer isn’t readily available on the college website. For example you may want to know how available the professors are, why the tour guide selected this college, what kind of student would fit in the college, and what students do on a typical weekend.
Before you head to campus, make a list of all the things you want to know that can’t be found on the school website or in their marketing materials. Asking a tour guide what the average class size is can be a missed opportunity. He is going to give the answer he is trained to give. Instead, you might ask something like, “I read that the average class size is 19. How may classes have you had that were larger than 19?” That question will provide a more useful answer.
There are no specific questions. Instead, try to engage your guide in a conversation designed to answer your biggest question—Is this the right school for me? Think about academics. What was your favorite class? Least favorite? Why? How much interaction do you have with professors? Other students? Think about campus life. What do people do for fun? What is campus like on Friday night? How often do you go home? What is the political or religious climate of campus? How much drinking or drug use should you expect? Think about your priorities and ask questions that will help you determine if this school is right for you.
The questions to ask a tour guide on a college visit are about student life. If you are not a big drinker, ask about the party scene. Is there a lot of throwing up in the bathrooms on week-ends? How can you avoid that? Do they have quiet dorms and what does that mean exactly. Ask which clubs the tour guide participates in and how active it is. Ask where else they applied and why they chose college X.
The most important questions to ask are the wants that you want answers to. There aren’t any stupid questions. It’s hard for me to give you a list of questions not knowing exactly what your circumstances are. One of the most important things on a campus tour is to see everything. See a dorm room, the cafeteria, a classroom where you will take classes, the library etc. Questions will more than likely flow as you see or don’t see things you are interested in.
Visit the dorm and ask, “Could I see myself living here?”
Visit the library. “Could I see myself studying here?”
Visit the football stadium. “Could I see myself cheering here?”
Visit the cafeteria. “Could I see myself eating here?”
Visit the Student Union. “Could I see myself hanging out here with friends?”
Visit a class. “Could I see myself learning here?”
Walk across the quad. “Could I see myself calling this place ‘home?’”
The most important questions to ask on a college visit are questions that are important to you. Don’t hog the tour and share the space. Tour guides love their campuses and can even give you suggestions about what else to do while on campus.
How many hours a day or week do you study? What is your favorite class? What other colleges did you apply to? What day does the weekend begin? (Some schools start their partying on Thursday, some schools are quite and others are not. If the answer is that every day is like a weekend then you have a pretty good feel for the campus social environment.) What are some of the school traditions? Is there a dorm that everyone tries to get into? What is greek life like? Do the students and administration get along? Do a lot of students go home on the weekends?
The most important questions to ask the tour guide are:
1. Why did you choose this college?
2. What other schools did you consider?
3. What do you like most about this school?
4. What do you wish you could change?
5. Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known as a prospective student?
I would let the tour guide run the tour and ask questions if something seems interesting or if the guide doesn’t discuss a subject you want to know about. Some questions that you might ask about would be the availability of dining at all hours, how long it takes to traverse the campus from the dorms to the academic buildings, whether the student center is used for numerous activities, whether students turn out for athletic or theatrical events and whether lots of kids leave campus on weekends. Try and ask questions that can’t be answered by looking at the college website.
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