Faculty genuinely enjoy talking to prospective students. The first person you should always reach out to is the director of undergraduate student involvement: an administrator who can help you identify the best student leaders and professors for you to contact based on your interests. He or she can also give you an unbiased assessment on which student organizations are the best on campus. Next, contact student leaders, faculty advisors for student organizations and department-specific professors. Take very good notes and have each person refer you to your next contact.
Important: the answers you get won’t just help you make a good college match — they will be used to strengthen your short answer and essays.
♦ = must ask question
Starter Questions (for Undergraduate Student Involvement Only)
First, explain that you are interested in learning more about student involvement opportunities on campus.
♦ What student organizations relating to my major and/or interests are active on campus?
♦ How well organized are they?
♦ Who are the most dominant groups on campus?
♦ What makes them successful?
♦ What kind of major events do students organize for the campus or participate in?
♦ How are student organizations encouraged and supported by the college? (funding, awards, retreats)
Starter Questions (for Professors Only)
• How did you get into teaching?
• What is your favorite part about being a professor?
• How long have you been working here?
♦ Do you teach at any other colleges? How do those colleges compare to this one?
Educational Philosophy (take detailed notes)
♦ What is distinctive about the education here?
♦ What is the educational philosophy of the college? Has it changed much in recent years?
♦ What are the distinctive/unique features of the university?
♦ What do you wish more students knew about the college?
♦ How would you characterize the college’s best students?
• How do some students fall short?
♦ How does the surrounding community contribute to student learning?
♦ How do student organizations contribute to student learning?
♦ What kinds of study abroad and non-traditional learning opportunities exist?
♦ Are any departments being cut back or discontinued? If so, why?
♦ Are any new programs scheduled for the next four years?
• How is the enrollment changing?
• Are curriculum changes in the works? How will that affect my college years?
• What political, social, or academic issues concerned students last year? How did the administration react? What was the resolution?
• What is the level of interaction between faculty and students?
• What is the level of interaction between faculty and student organizations?
• How large are the class sizes?
• Do freshmen have the opportunity to take courses with the college’s major professors?
• Are there research opportunities with the faculty? In what areas?
• Does the college provide free job placement services?
♦ What does the college do to help graduates find jobs?
• What percentage of graduates find jobs within a few months after graduating?
♦ What percentage of graduates find jobs in the field they studied for?
• What do graduates in my major do after college?
♦ Does the college have a supportive alumni network?
• In what ways do alumni give back to the college?
♦ Do opportunities exist for students to network with alumni?
♦ Why should a student choose this college over another one? (common essay question)
♦ What advice can you give me for the admissions process?
♦ Are there any outstanding students who share my major or interests that you wouldn’t mind referring me to?
Send a hand-written thank you note.