Deciding where to attend college is a huge milestone in a person's life, which is why mastering the application process is vitally important. In addition to putting your best foot forward with good test scores and recommendation letters, you must also take a complete look at each college you're considering; this means evaluating academic programs, campus life, surrounding areas and other factors. You should examine scholarship and financial aid opportunities, or even available online learning programs. With help from college Web sites, guidance counselors and college recruiters, you should be able to get the information needed to make the right college choice.
What kind of on campus housing options are available to students and how are assignments determined?
Many college freshman begin their college careers living on campus, so it's important to find out what the campus housing is like. Some schools give preference to dormitory student applications by location or by other determination, so be sure to find out how assignments are determined.
Can my credits from your school transfer to another school later on?
Most colleges are accredited, and credits earned at one school generally transfer over to another school seamlessly, but credits at some specialty schools (like conservatory schools) can only be transferred to certain schools, if at all. Always ask before choosing a college, especially if you plan to further your education later on.
When are admission decisions made and how long do I have to make a decision?
When a college provides an offer letter to a student, the necessary documentation to begin accepting the offer usually accompanies the letter. Some colleges require a deposit upon acceptance, so you should be ready by knowing what is expected.
What are the requirements for in-state tuition?
If you're planning to attend a college out of state, make sure you understand the tuition fees and know when you will qualify for in-state tuition. Never assume the college will switch you over to the lower in-state tuition fees once you qualify. Stay on top of your status and let the admissions office know as soon as you qualify.
Do you have online classes available?
Most major universities and community colleges now offer entire programs online, making earning a degree easier for many students. When choosing which school to attend, ask whether they offer classes online, and if so, which ones.
What is the four-year graduation rate for students at your college?
Learning about the graduation rate can tell you a lot about the difficulty of academic programs or available resources for students at colleges you're considering.
What kind of financial aid is available and is there any assistance for finding aid?
With the cost of college rising every year, finding financial aid a student qualifies for becomes more and more important for students who don't want to find themselves out of school and deep in debt. Ask about options local to the college that can help aid with tuition costs.
What is the deadline for submitting my application for the upcoming semester?
Missing the application deadline could mean waiting for the next semester before you can start school. Always find out well in advance when the deadlines are, and never wait until the last minute to send in your application!
Do you offer any scholarships that I might qualify for?
There is rarely a shortage of scholarships available for students who need help paying for tuition, books, housing and fees. Ask the recruiter or the financial aid staff which scholarships you might qualify for and remember to apply for them early.
Do certain majors require additional admissions materials?
Certain advanced majors may have additional admissions requirements, such as baseline standardized test scores, admissions essays or letters of recommendation. Clarify this ahead of time so you're not caught off guard by admissions deadlines.
What are the program requirements?
Each college offers various programs of study, and then requirements for each program will be different based on the school. If you're interested in a particular program of study, ask what the program requirements are so you know what to expect once you enroll.