Student Insights: Mina Dang, University of California, Davis ’21
15 Questions You SHOULD Ask a College Admissions Representative
by Mina Dang
Mina is a born and raised Vietnamese-American in San Francisco, CA, and is a freshman at the University of California, Davis studying Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. She has hopes of attending medical school in the near future. Her favorite color is pink and chocolate is her guilty pleasure. She also enjoys singing, sleeping, and swimming in her free time. She travels quite often and loves to tell stories about her many experiences around the world. Her favorite TV show is Scorpion, but in general, she has a sweet spot for crime shows!
College admissions representatives have one distinct goal in mind: to invite you to apply to their school. They flash these beautifully made brochures, advertising their evidence that their school comes out on top. In fact, a majority of these brochures include the same information: impressive quick facts, demographics, athletics, majors, financial aid, acceptance rates, tuition price, application deadlines, etc.… you get the picture. This information only covers the general details, but you definitely should not choose them based off of this alone. I’m here to share the main questions you should ask a college admissions representative to ensure that the school lives up to all your needs and desires.
1. What makes your college unique compared to the other colleges?
Colleges want to tell you about what makes their school different from the rest, so by asking them to tell you what makes them unique gives them the opportunity to showcase why you should choose their school from their point of view.
2. What are some academic or accelerated programs that your college is known for?
Many colleges have special programs specific to their school. Some have pre-professional paths (i.e. pre-med, pre-law, pre-dental, pre-vet, etc.) that you can apply to, while others have honors programs that recognize your academic achievements in high school. It’s certainly good to have an idea of what they can offer you.
3. Is it easy for your students to get classes during class registration and does your school guarantee your students to graduate with a degree within four years?
Not every school can guarantee graduation in four years. Just because you’re planning to be a part of the next Class of 2022 does not mean you walk the aisle in four years. There are requirements to complete for your major, but sometimes you may not get a class you need to meet them. Do not fret… Some colleges have a four-year guarantee if you do your part, so don’t worry!
4. What are some of the most popular majors on campus and why are they popular?
Choosing a major remains one of the many things college students constantly change, but don’t worry, you generally have two years to finalize what you want to major in. Most colleges do ask that you put down a major of your interest on your college application (Undecided is sometimes an option), so by asking what majors are popular there, you may find one that sparks your individualized interest.
5. How would you describe the typical student workload?
Just when you thought high school was an obstacle, college sneaks up on you as an even bigger challenge. Asking about the rigorous nature of a college’s academics could tell you whether or not the school is a good fit. Some schools have become well-known for their competitiveness, while other schools prefer to encourage a more laid-back academic setting. From this, you can decide if the level of rigor fits your desires.
6. How large is the largest class and how small is the smallest class?
Class size matters. Many universities have large lecture halls that can hold over 500 students, while many other smaller colleges have more close discussion classes. Depending on your preference on how you learn, a smaller class size can give you an opportunity to get to know your professors better.
7. Are the classes taught by mainly professors or their TAs? How available and accessible are the professors outside of class (i.e. office hours)?
Most colleges have professors teaching their class, and occasionally, their teacher assistants will step up in front of the class, but it’s now more common for large research universities to have their professors off doing important research in their field and allowing TAs to educate you instead. Some say that TAs give a better explanation since they understand it in a way that may relate to you more, while others argue that professors have experienced a lifetime instructing the material to over thousands of students.
8. Are there resources to help your students when they are in need of finding internships and jobs for their resumes?
In high school, you created a list of impressive extracurriculars for your future college applications, but guess what? You get to do it again in college! You may find it difficult to find an internship or job that gives you the experience in your major of interest. Many colleges have resources to guide you in your hunt, and they may even help you build your resume as well.
9. What are your current study abroad programs like?
Study abroad remains one of the most popular questions incoming college students ask and they have every right to ask about it. Who doesn’t want to fly to another country for study and get credits for traveling? College representatives can steer you into that direction and maybe you will go study in a place you’ve always dreamed of going to.
10. How is the transportation on and off campus? Is it easy to get around?
Some university campuses appear so massive that you need a map to get around, while other campuses pride themselves on being very compact and easy to navigate. You may want to know if you can walk from one class to another during a short passing period. Getting around will be something you’ll need to do while you are there anyway.
11. What surrounds your college campus and where do your students hang out off-campus?
Environment is a strong topic that distinguishes one university from another. Representatives can tell you whether their institution provides a city life or a small town experience. You can find out the school’s surrounding location and where students may go to hang out during their weekends or spare time.
12. How safe is your campus and what are some of your security protocols?
Safety is every parent’s concern and it should become yours as well. Almost every school has the necessary security protocols like security officers, but some colleges go beyond the basics. Ask them and you will have peace of mind that the school has your safety as a priority.
13. What are the housing options for freshman and is on-campus living guaranteed beyond your first year?
If you are looking into colleges away from home, getting a dorm experience is a must for you. Most schools have space for on-campus living for your first year, but not every college can guarantee space for housing your following year. By getting to know your housing options, it will allow you to plan your future at the college.
14. Does your school have Greek life? If so, do the students consider sororities and fraternities a big part of their campus life?
Besides the study abroad program, the other interest that attracts incoming college students is Greek life. When people think of college, sororities and fraternities pop up in their minds. If you are interested, ask about the university’s Greek life and see where that leads you.
15. What are the most popular or unique activities and clubs?
Just like in high school, all colleges have clubs and activities for you to join. Actually, at most colleges, you can create your own club of your interest. Representatives can give you the details about some of their clubs that may spark your interest, and this is a common topic that frequently comes up during campus tours.
Well, it’s finally that time of the year again when high school seniors begin to fill out applications to enter the next chapter of their lives. Know that you’ve got my full support on choosing the right colleges to apply to based on the right questions. Now go on forth and conquer each college representative you meet!