College Planning

Questions to Ask When Building Your College List

As you are developing your college list, you will need to consider many factors that can make or break your college experience. This post will help give you a few questions to ask yourself before adding a school onto your list.


The Basics

Use this list of questions as a starting point when evaluating schools to add to your college list. These questions will help you decide quickly if a college should be added to your list.

  • Where is the college? Can you locate it on a map? Is it too close to home? Is it too far? Is it too cold or too hot there?
  • Have you taken the coursework the college requires for admission?
  • What size is the college? How many students are undergraduates?
  • What is the college’s selectivity ratio? (What proportion of applicants were admitted last year?)
  • Does the college offer majors that interest you?
  • Is the college coed or single sex?
  • What percentage of students live off campus?
  • How many of the students graduate in four years? Five years? Six years?
  • How many first-year students return for their sophomore year?
  • How much does the program cost? What is the total per year expense?
  • What type of financial aid is available?


Where Would You Fit In?

Understanding how you fit in with the rest of the student body is an important aspect when evaluating colleges. Answering these questions can help you figure out if you might be a good fit in a school’s student body.

  • What are the admission test scores at the colleges of interest to you? Where does that place you?
  • What were the high school GPAs of most of the first-year students last year?
  • Are first-year students guaranteed on-campus housing? If not, where do they live?
  • Are there extracurricular activities that interest you?


Visit Their Websites and Read College Guidebooks

When determining which schools to add to your college list, it is important to learn as much as you can through the college’s website as well as college guidebooks. Here are some questions to ask when reading up on a school.

  • What are their strong academic programs? (Ask a college representative, students, graduates, and teachers.)
  • What courses are required for graduation?
  • Are the courses you need/want available each semester? At convenient times?
  • Are there special programs (study abroad, internships, etc.) of interest to you?
  • What is the social life like? What percentage of students join fraternities or sororities?
  • Do the pictures and the language the college uses to describe itself attract you?
  • What is your general impression of the college?
  • Is the school accredited?
  • If professional certification is required for employment in the field that interests you, how many students enrolled in the school’s program pass the certification exam?


Admissions Process

The admissions process is important when identifying schools to add to your list. Here are some questions to consider about each school's application process.

  • When are applications due?
  • What does the application contain? Are essays required?
  • Is an interview suggested or required? Is an interview available from staff or alumni?
  • When may you visit the college? What is its policy regarding campus visits?
  • What are the financial aid deadlines? What financial aid forms are required?


Now Answer These Questions

After going through this post, use the questions below as a final check to determine if a school should be added to your college list.

  • Am I a strong candidate for admission to this college?
  • If I am not a strong candidate, what are my chances?
  • Do I want to visit this college?
  • What additional information do I need?


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