Fotolia_1320034_XSWant to make the most out of your campus visit? Talk with strangers. If I had to pick the one tip I hear over and over about making the most of a college visit, it’s this one:

Talk with enrolled students and ask them questions about college life. You can get the 4-1-1 on academic programs, tuition, and acceptance rates from numerous web sites and college guides, but only students who walk the grounds daily can tell you what college life is really like. This advice comes from guidance counselors, admissions counselors, and also from college students, who were once in your shoes, and who have been there, done that.

Who is approachable?
The student tour guide is obviously the most approachable person on campus, but to make sure you get a well-rounded perspective of campus life, ask students you see walking around campus, those milling about in the student center and those who are eating in the dining centers.

What should you ask?
The most obvious questions to ask are:

  1. Why did you choose____________?
  2. Do you like it here (why/why not)?
  3. What would you change about the college?
  4. How large were your classes freshman year? How large are they now?
  5. If you had to start over and select a college, would you make the same choice?

But don’t forget to ask the all important lifestyle questions—after all, this your life for the next four or five years that you want to know about:

  • What do students do on the weekend?
  • How important is the Greek system?
  • What is the town/city like?
  • Is this a suitcase college?
  • What percentage of students stay on campus on the weekends?
  • Have you ever met the college president?

Don’t be shy when it comes to learning. It’s OK to talk to strangers. Who else, other than enrolled students, can give you an honest perspective on what it’s like to be a student at the college or university you’re considering?