BLOG: All Things Higher Ed

20 questions to ask when choosing a college

Choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions you can make as a prospective student. With so many options available, it can be challenging to decide which college is the best fit for you. 

It's important to ask the right questions during the college search process to ensure that you make an informed decision. In this blog post, we will share 20 questions to ask when considering a college.

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1. What is your intended major, and does the college offer a strong program for it?

You’ll spend most of your time with the faculty, staff, and students in your major. When considering a college, it's important to determine if they offer a strong program in your intended major. Look at the faculty and staff, course offerings, and research opportunities. Look for opportunities to meet faculty in your desired major. 

2. What is the size of the school, and do you prefer a small or large campus?

Some students love the feeling of a large campus – seeing the football team play and getting involved in a wide range of activities. Some students would rather spend time on a smaller campus where everyone knows their name. Consider if the college is large or small and if its size fits your preferences. Do you want a campus with more students and more activities, or are you looking for a more intimate setting?

3. What is the location of the school, and do you prefer a city or rural setting?

Location is an essential factor to consider. Do you want to attend school in a big city or a quiet rural town? Consider the surrounding community and the amenities it offers. Rural campuses offer the advantages of a close-knit community while urban campuses offer a wide range of things to do and activities to participate in.

4. What is the student-to-faculty ratio, and how large are the class sizes?

It is essential to understand the student-to-faculty ratio and class size of the program you are considering. A lower student-to-faculty ratio allows for a more personalized education. With smaller classes you will get more personal attention and hands-on instruction from faculty, which can help you thrive in your major and get a job. 

5. What is the tuition cost, and what financial aid options are available?

Research shows cost is one of the most important factors for students in selecting a college. You want to pursue your education without wondering how you’ll pay for it.  Consider the cost of tuition and any financial aid options available to you. Understand how much you will need to pay out-of-pocket and what financial aid comes in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans. 

6. How diverse is the student body and faculty, and what support is available for diverse students?

Diversity enriches the college experience and exposes you to other cultures and ideas. Look for any support programs offered for students and what resources are available to enhance your cultural experience. College is an opportunity to discover new worlds. 

7.  What extracurricular activities are available, and what clubs and organizations pique your interests?

College is not only about academics but also social growth – you might discover you love to dance or help others through community service. Studies show that students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to graduate and have higher GPAs. Look for extracurricular activities that interest you, from clubs to intramural sports. 

8. What networking opportunities are available, and what career services does the school provide?

College is like a running start for the rest of your life. It's essential to understand how the college can help you jumpstart your career after graduation. Explore the college's career services and its networking opportunities. Does the college have a career development center? They can help you get going on your career ambitions. 

9. What is the overall curriculum, and what opportunities are available for research and internships?

Look at the college's curriculum and determine if it can help you achieve your academic goals. Then, look for opportunities for research and internships that can enhance your educational experience. What opportunities will you have to pursue undergraduate and graduate research? These opportunities can help you get embedded in your career sooner. 

10. What is the college's culture, and does it align with your values and beliefs?

Finding a college that is the right fit for you is the most one of the most important criteria to consider when making your selection. Consider if the college's culture aligns with your values and beliefs and if it has a community that you can identify with. A highly competitive environment might not be a great fit for you, or it may inspire you to do your best. 

11. How safe is the campus, and what security measures does the college have in place?

Safety is a top priority for your college experience. Look for campus security measures and policies that ensure the safety of students. Ask questions about what the college is doing to keep its students safe. Does the college offer safe rides? Does it have surveillance cameras? What about a security force? 

12. What are the housing options, and are they affordable?

There are a wide array of living arrangements in college – from residence halls to apartment-style living, or even living off campus. Determine if the college offers on-campus housing and what options are available. Select a housing option that suits your lifestyle and budget. You may even decide to become a resident assistant and work in your residence hall. 

13. What is the food like, and does it meet your dietary needs?

Nutrition affects your physical and mental health – eating the right foods can help manage stress and improve your college experience. Determine if the college offers a variety of healthy food options that fit your dietary requirements. Some colleges have many dining options on campus, while some smaller campuses only have one or two dining halls. 

14. What is the college's retention rate, and how many students complete their degrees?

Consider the retention rate, which is the percentage of students who return to the college after their first year and how many complete their degrees. A college with a low retention rate may be good at recruiting students, but not as good at keeping them engaged on campus. 

15. What are the admission requirements, and what are the GPA and standardized test score requirements?

Different schools have different admissions criteria – some include essays, tests, and letters of recommendation, while others look at your application and your transcript. Understand what the college's admission requirements are. Many schools are going to a test-optional format, where you are not required to take the ACT or SAT. This can make the application process less stressful.

16. What is the college's degree completion time, and are there any accelerated programs?

Determine the degree completion time for the program you are considering. Consider if the program has any accelerated programs that allow you to finish your degree faster. This can save you money and get you into your career more quickly. You may also consider enrolling in a 100% online program.  

17. What is the alumni network like, and do they have successful graduates in your intended field? 

Connecting with alumni can help you get a better idea of your career path and how to move into it faster. Explore the college's alumni network and learn about their graduates' career paths. Look for any successful alumni who graduated with degrees in your intended field. Networking with these alumni will help you to build a support community that keeps you moving forward. 

18. What is the technology infrastructure like, and what digital learning tools are available?

Higher ed has changed in the last decade. Online learning is a big part of many programs. Determine if the college has robust technology infrastructure and what digital learning tools are available. In addition to online learning, areas like the library can offer digital tools that make research easier. 

19. What is the college's sustainability plan, and how environmentally friendly is the campus?

Colleges are taking a second look at sustainability. Consider the college's sustainability plan and how environmentally friendly their campus is. Look for any initiatives that promote sustainable living. Consider if the dining hall uses recyclable containers for food or if the university uses alternative energy – like solar – for power. 

20. What is the college's accreditation, and is it a respected institution in your intended field?

Accreditation is essential when considering a college. Ensure the college is accredited and respected in your intended field to ensure your degree has credibility. In addition to the college itself, look at the programs you are considering. Are they accredited? These can help increase your marketable value when you’re hunting for a job. 


Choosing the right college is a significant milestone in a student's life. By asking the right questions, you can make an informed decision and ensure you select a college that will help you achieve your academic and professional goals. Use this list of questions as a guide as you begin your college search process. Remember, your college experience will shape your future, so choose wisely.

Central Michigan University is here to help you thrive in college. Schedule a visit with us or meet your admission rep to see if Central Michigan is the right fit for you. 

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: University Communications
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