It doesn't matter who you are or where you apply: college applications are stressful. According to the New York Times, it isn't uncommon for college applicants to lose sleep, get headaches, or even become depressed throughout the process. Relax. Scheduling an appointment with a school's admissions counselor can provide valuable insight into the application process and put your admissions chances in perspective, reducing needless worry. Here are ten must-ask questions for your academic adviser:
1. What do you look for in an applicant?
This is a very basic but important question. All campus-based and online colleges have their own selection criteria, and while they may not be willing to divulge too much information, you can certainly get a feel for what accomplishments they value. Ask about the relative ranking of things like grades, standardized test scores, AP coursework, and extracurricular activities are.
2. How and when should I apply?
Knowing how and when to apply is essential information as most schools don't accept late or incomplete applications. Be sure to ask what additional submissions are recommended, including standardized test scores, admissions essays, and letters of recommendation.
3. When can I expect a decision?
Knowing how and when you'll receive your admissions decision can save you weeks of needless torment.
4. What is the average high school GPA of students at your school?
Knowing how your GPA stacks up against the average student can give you a sense of your chances for admission and how competitive the academic environment will be upon enrollment.
5. What is the average SAT or ACT score of students at your school, and how important is it?
As with GPA, average test scores are an indication of admissions criteria and academic competitiveness. Be sure to ask what standardized tests they prefer and how important these scores are, particularly if you have excellent grades but don't excel in test taking.
6. How much does it cost to attend your school?
School is a priceless investment in yourself, but that doesn't mean it always fits your budget. Be sure to ask for the cumulative cost of admission--additional fees, housing, and other expenses add up.
7. Is financial aid available?
Financial aid can make college a reality for students who otherwise could not attend. Be sure to have your admissions adviser specify which types of aid are available, including grants, scholarships, and government or private loans. Also ask how and when to apply.
8. What is your student-to-faculty ratio?
Smaller class sizes reduce competition for your professor's time, which can impact the quality of your education overall.
9. What are your minimum technology requirements?
This question is particularly important for those attending online degree programs who rely on their computers for attendance, but even campus-based schools typically have technology recommendations, which can add to your overall expense.
10. How do online students interact with teachers and students?
Whether you're applying to online colleges or campus-based schools that offers some online courses, understanding how you attend class, submit work, receive feedback, and interact with your peers is essential for determining whether your learning style is well-suited for online degree programs.