What To Ask College Admissions Officers 

Applying to universities is a stressful process with so many different components and nuances. When meeting with a college admissions officer, you may not even know where to start — there are so many important features to know about before deciding on a college. 

Even though you’re applying to gain admission, the application process is also a way for you to screen the school, not just a process for the school to screen applicants. You want to make sure the college offers a program you might be interested in majoring in, and that you would find clubs to be part of and fit into the unique culture of the university. Use this time to be discerning! Just because a college is renowned or prestigious doesn’t mean you would enjoy attending it for four years. 

In this article, we’ll go over some key things to know about the schools you’re applying to and questions you should and shouldn’t ask a college admissions officer.


Asking about academics will be easier if you have a vague idea of what you would like to major in, but if you’re not sure yet, don’t worry — that’s what college is for! Still, there are a few things you might want to consider in terms of academics depending on your learning style and class preferences. 

A few examples of questions you might want to ask are:

  1. What is the registration process like for students? 
  2. How many course offerings does my major have per [semester/quarter]?
  3. When is the deadline for students to declare a major?
  4. What are the general requirements students have to meet before graduation?
  5. Are seniors required to work on a capstone project or a dissertation in their major department?
  6. Are there study abroad programs available for my major?
  7. What percentage of students study abroad?

Asking these questions can give you a good sense of whether or not the academics at a particular school would be a good fit for you. If you get the chance, you might also want to consider taking a tour of the college you’re applying to. While these are not typically led by college admissions officers, they are often led by current students who might give you valuable information about what students are like and what they think of the school. 

Asking current students might give you a better idea of other aspects of the college experience, like social life.

Social Life 

As mentioned before, asking about social life might make more sense on a college tour led by a current student versus a college admissions officer. Still, social life and fit are extremely important parts of university, so make sure you don’t skip over learning about the school’s social personality.

Especially if you’re interested in (or very against) Greek life, you might want to consider asking about the presence of Greek organizations on campus. Some schools have a very active and large Greek life presence while others do not, so it could play a large role in your decision if you have strong feelings towards sororities or fraternities.

Here are some examples of questions you may ask about social life: 

  1. What percentage of students belong to a sorority or fraternity, and how present are they in on campus housing?
  2. If you’re talking with a current student, you might want to ask them to describe what the students are like and what kinds of people would enjoy the school the most 
  3. What are the housing options and requirements (on campus, off campus, are students close with their on campus housemates, what kinds of programs or events do on campus dorms offer)?

Campus Culture 

Campus culture is a similar topic to social life, and will play a huge role in your college experience regardless of where you ultimately choose to attend. Campus culture could involve a large number of different components, from student run clubs, programs like intramural, club, or varsity sports, and even just the general personality of the school and its students. 

For instance, there are universities that have reputations for certain personalities like the University of Chicago, which prides itself on curiosity and intellect — UChicago holds a school-wide scavenger hunt every year and has unique and quirky essay prompts for their application supplemental. Someone who would love going to UChicago might not be happy at a different university without a similar personality and vice versa. 

Different universities and colleges have different year systems as well, which could play a large part in the campus culture and feel. Some schools run on a semester system while others use a quarter system. 

An academic school year on a semester system is made up of 2 terms that are typically around 15 weeks long each, while a quarter system runs on 3 quarters that are typically 10 weeks long each. The culture of a school on a quarter system might be very different from one on a semester system because of their different schedules; especially regarding clubs and extracurricular activities, you may want to think about which system you would prefer and ask college admissions officers how it may affect campus life.

Here are a few questions you might consider asking a college admissions counselor about campus culture: 

  1. How would you describe students that attend this school?
  2. How can I find more information on the different student clubs and organizations on campus?
  3. (For quarter system schools) How does the quarter system impact club life, including recruiting and participation/engagement during the quick turnaround rate for midterm and finals season?

Academic Support

Academic support is obviously a hugely important part of the college experience, so you might want to consider asking about what kinds of resources specific schools offer for their students. 

For instance, if you have trouble with writing essays and are concerned with how many you will need to complete over the course of college, you might want to ask about Writing Centers that help students with things like proofreading. 

Many universities also have helpful resources like student tutors to help you in specific classes, and you might be interested in learning whether or not these services are free. In addition to student tutors, some universities hire paid tutors — if you think you might want the help of a professional tutor or even are interested in being a tutor for subjects you excel in, those would be great questions to ask a college admissions officer. 

  1. What kinds of resources does this school offer in terms of tutoring?
  2. What are the learning disability accommodations offered? (Obviously, this would be better suited if you do have a learning disability and are wondering what the school’s policies are to accommodate you)

Career Support And Opportunities 

One of the main benefits of attending university is the opportunity for career advancement. Most colleges offer career advising and resources for students to learn about different career paths and organizations. 

Depending on the school, you may even be able to attend college fairs where representatives from different companies talk about their experiences at the firm, hold information sessions for interested applicants, and even recruit on campus. 

You may want to ask your college admissions officer about the most common careers or companies graduated students go on to work in. For instance, there are again some schools that have reputations for very prestigious and rigorous programs in specific disciplines and therefore many top companies like to recruit students there. To refer back to a previous example, the University of Chicago is known for their economics programs and many of their students go on to work for top firms in industries like investment banking or consulting. Other universities like Johns Hopkins are known for their excellent medicine curriculum, so you may want to consider your interests when deciding which colleges to apply to. 

Beyond career support targeted towards internships and full time jobs, many colleges also offer opportunities to grow your resume with work study jobs. Work study students are able to work in paid or unpaid positions at organizations based in the school, whether it’s as a front desk receptionist for a university building or as a research assistant for a professor. If you’re interested in working during the school year, asking about work study opportunities would also be a good way to see if the school is a fit.

Some questions you might want to ask about are: 

  1. What percent of students land internship roles before graduation?
  2. What kinds of employment resources are available for students?
  3. Are there opportunities to gain work experience on campus during the school year?
  4. How would you characterize the alumni network’s influence in the recruiting process?
  5. What makes this school’s career resources unique and advantageous compared to other schools?

Financial Aid 

For many people, financial aid is a crucial part of college. There are schools that offer need based financial aid, and there are others that offer merit based financial aid. You should be able to find this information on the college’s financial aid page, so make sure you know which system the school is operating on. 

Need based financial aid offers financial aid packages based on how much income your family makes. Simply, the school will offer more financial aid to students from lower income households and less financial aid to students from higher income households. They will evaluate how much your household will be able to pay for your education and calculate your expected financial contribution. 

On the other hand, merit based financial aid is need blind, meaning they do not look at your household income to determine how much financial aid they award. Merit based aid might mean you need to apply for different scholarships with the school, but again, this information should be easy to find on their website. 

Financial aid can be a difficult and complicated topic, so make sure to talk with your parents about what your expectations are and what kinds of things you’d like to know before applying.

Just a few of the questions you could ask about financial aid are:

  1. What is the average amount of loan debt accumulated by a student here?
  2. How can I find out more about what financial aid package I could expect if I attended this school?
  3. What are the work study opportunities like for students on financial aid? Are there work study opportunities for students who are not on financial aid?
  4. At what pace has the annual tuition rate increased recently?

Questions To Avoid Asking 

Anything You Can Find Online

College admissions officers are chatting with hundreds of students over the course of application season about their school — you want to make sure you’re asking good questions. This means you should not ask questions that you can find the answer to online. Most schools have extensive online resources that will answer so many different questions, and often specific pages also offer FAQs that you can look through. 

Before meeting with an admissions officer for a college you’re really interested in, be sure to do your research! If you spend all of your time getting answers you could’ve found online, you’re wasting valuable time talking with someone who could be in charge of reviewing your application. Meeting with a college admissions officer is the time to ask important and specific questions you can’t find the answers to elsewhere.

Sensitive Or Overly Personal Questions

Obviously, this will depend on what kind of question you had in mind. If you have a question in mind that’s about a sensitive or very personal topic, consider whether or not this question would make you uncomfortable if someone asked you. Remember that you’re trying to put your best foot forward as you learn more about the school.

Asking Admissions Officers To Review Your Application

Admissions officers are not going to appreciate it if you take their time to ask them to look over your application. Even if you’re meeting with an admissions officer for your dream school, you should not ask them anything along the lines of “will I get in” or “how do I increase my chances of getting in.” 

While you should never ask point blank, “how can I increase my chances of getting in,” there are many questions you can ask that work around this point and give you more information about what kind of student they’re looking for. For instance, asking about current students and what they are like will give you a great idea of the kinds of people who have already gained admission and what they are like, both academically but also personally. 

Tips When Asking College Admissions Officers Questions

Do Your Research

Every school is different, and every school prides themselves on being different. Because of this, make sure you do your research before you meet with a college admissions officer. You don’t want to ask questions that you could easily find online, and you definitely don’t want to ask generic questions that don’t really help you learn more about the nuances of a school.

Get Specific

Once you’ve done your research about a school, you might come across some surprises; you may be less interested in the college you were once set on, and a random university might become your favorite. This should make it easier for you to settle on a list of colleges that you would genuinely be happy to attend, and it’ll help you think of questions naturally.

If you notice something interesting and you want to ask about it, (generally speaking) the more specific the better. For example, college admissions officers have probably heard the question “how is the [x] program here?” many times, but they might not have heard someone ask them about the program’s capstone project opportunities. Asking specific questions makes the session with a college admissions officer more valuable for yourself and also might give you more information you need to make your decision.

Ask About Their Experiences And Opinions

While not all college admissions officers attended the schools they work for, you might be interested in learning about their experience if they did. Hearing first hand information is super helpful when you’re trying to learn more about a school. If the college admissions officer went elsewhere for their college education, it might also be interesting to ask if they notice any surprising differences between their school and the school they currently work for. 

Find Out More About College Admissions With SoFlo

Whether you’re looking for experts to help with your college applications or looking to boost your application with a higher SAT or ACT score, SoFlo has tutors from top colleges to help you. Schedule a free consultation here today!

About The Author

Emily is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Marketing. She enjoys painting, running, and playing the acoustic guitar.

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