By Kristina Dooley, M.A., <a href="http://www.estrelaconsulting.com/welcome.php" target="_blank">Estrela Consulting</a>The world relies on client reviews. No matter what you’re getting ready to purchase, you can count on the candid feedback provided by those who have already invested in a product. Your college investment is no different and the thousands of alumni who have graduated from the schools on your list are a great resource to you as you finalize your plans for next year. The first step in getting in touch with the alumni from any university is to contact each school to let them know you’d like to speak with one of their graduates. Before doing this, consider these things: Do you want to speak with someone who has graduated recently to find out what options new grads have found? Or are you interested in hearing about long-term outcomes? If you’ve decided on a major, would it be helpful to speak to someone who completed the same course of study? If you’re undecided, how about speaking with an alum who tested the waters before declaring a major? Are you curious about what someone from your geographic area or home town loved (or loathed) about XYZ University? Wondering if the school was helpful in supporting the needs of a first-generation college student? What about financial assistance…are they still feeling the burn in their bank accounts? After deciding exactly what type of alum you would benefit most from speaking with, relay that info to your admission office contact. Most schools will try very hard to put you in touch with an appropriate match whether by phone, email, or in person. Colleges will often give prospective students the option of meeting with alumi in their area either as an information session or an admission interview. An important thing to note: interviews are two-way. Make sure to come prepared with questions you have about the school and their experiences as a student. Here are a few questions to consider asking: What are some pieces of advice about surviving your first year at XYZ University? Anything you wish someone had told you? Any words of advice about overcoming homesickness or resisting the temptation to head home every weekend? What type of assistance did you receive (if any) from the Career Services Office at the university? Have you had any help from them since graduating? What was your college search like and why did you ultimately select XYZ University? While certainly not an exhaustive list of questions, these should help you get started. Another aspect to keep in mind when speaking with alumni spokespeople selected by the college: unhappy alums are not usually asked to speak with prospective students. With that in mind, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask anything that will help you with your decision. Finally, don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to help you with this big decision and consider passing on the favor when you’re the satisfied client!