A lot of high schoolers are beginning to look at colleges around this time of year. Before you get too invested in the process, check with your family, teachers, etc. to see if college is right for you! With graduation rates plummeting and costs soaring, attending college is no longer the no-brainer it once was.
Choosing the right college can be tough! There are a lot of factors involved, like location, size, cost, Greek life, etc. With all of these factors weighing on their minds, most students who are set on going to college will probably fail to ask the 4 most important questions. Take it from a college recruiter; THESE are the questions to ask!
1. What is the average class size?
Let's say you're in a lecture hall of 400 students for Freshman biology. How well are you going to know the professor? How many questions are you going to be able to ask? How much feedback are you going to be able to get? Wouldn't it just be cheaper to watch a YouTube video?
The purpose of college is to prepare you for a future career, and while we generally think "General Education" classes are "Generally Useless," if you're going to be forced to take them you might as well learn something. Building a connection with your professor (the expert in the subject) and actively participating in a lecture are just two of the best ways to maximize your college investment. If you're not participating or you CAN'T participate, you might as well watch YouTube videos at home.
Smaller class sizes mean more connection, more interaction, and more learning. It's just that simple!
2. Who teaches classes?
College should be about learning, and if you're paying over $25,000/year you had better be getting access to experts. Does a professor's degree indicate how good of a teacher they'll be? Not at all. But that's not why you're asking this question...
Many college classes (particularly at larger schools) are taught in large auditoriums or lecture halls with several hundred seats. In order to make sure students' questions are answered, the classes are split into smaller groups and assigned TAs (teaching assistants) to help them learn the material. TAs are usually Master's or Doctoral students who may only be a few years older than their students. Generally TAs are NOT subject matter experts.
The reason you should ask this question is that it gives you more insight into class sizes and how much access you'll have to "the people who know what they're talking about."
A variation of this question you can ask is, "How easy is it to get to know professors?" If you're in a class of six people sitting in a circle next to a professor, the chances are very high that you'll get to know each other and that they'll be there if you need help or want to learn more.
3. What is your 4-year graduation rate?
Why is this answer so crucial? You're spending a LOT of money on a college education.
According to Value Penguin by LendingTree:
Average yearly total cost of public colleges: $25,290 (in-state) and $40,940 (out-of-state
Average yearly total cost of private colleges: $50,900
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average 4-year graduation rate in the United States is 41%. The 6-year graduation rate? 60%.
Conclusion: it's not all that likely the average college student will graduate in 4-years. That means college is a LOT more expensive than you might think...
Public College In-State: 4-year cost = $101,160; 6-year cost = $151,740
Public College Out-of-State: 4-year cost = $163,760; 6-year cost = $245,640
Private College: 4-year cost = $203,600; 6-year cost = $305,400
Colleges should prioritize getting students to graduate on time instead of prioritizing making more money by keeping students in school for longer. Several college students I've spoken to have said their schools encouraged them to only take 12 credits each semester (4 classes) to avoid stress. This will NOT lower stress, a Bachelor's degree will take 10 semesters (5 years). Taking just one extra class per semester (15 credits) will mean you graduate in 4 years, but it's not in a college's best interest to get you out quickly! Asking for a 4-year graduation rate will help you figure out if they WANT you to graduate on time.
4. What study abroad and/or professional placement opportunities are there?
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NOTE: All of our College Success tips work for ANY level of school!