admissions counselor , student sitting on the floor leaning on bed staring at phone

Questions to Ask Your Admissions Counselor


Navigating a post-secondary school search is a big deal. Very often it is a young adult’s first opportunity to make a decision that truly has the power to impact the rest of their life, so getting it right is important. Luckily, there are resources available to help make an informed decision, and arguably the best knowledge source can be found in your Admissions Counselor.

What is an Admissions Counselor?

Admission Counselors (also known as Admissions Representatives or Admissions Recruiters) are a bit of a strange irony. They work for colleges and universities in the Admissions department, so you will have an Admissions Counselor wherever you apply. The irony is their role, which is 50% gatekeeper and 50% recruiter. Their first job is to make sure that only well-suited students who have what it takes to be successful are admitted. Therefore, they are checking grades, evaluating portfolios, and reading a lot of admission essays.

Once the ideal fits are determined and acceptance letters are sent out, they change into recruiter mode. This is when they actively work to get those great students committed to attending the institution in the fall.

If you are admitted to the college or university, they think you’re going to be a great fit and do well academically, so they want you to come and be a superstar on their campus!

Being recruited is a good position, especially if you’re weighing your options. An Admissions Counselor is motivated to answer your questions quickly and thoroughly. Very often, they are not only experts in the post-secondary school they represent but also highly knowledgeable about the search process. They are a great resource for students and families that are looking to make the right decision on the first try.

Question 1: What is the Freshman to Sophomore Retention Rate?

The buzzword in admissions is the “four-year graduation rate”. This is a calculation of how many students complete their coursework and earn a degree within the typical four years. It does not account for programs that take longer than four years or the very common instances that can delay graduation, like taking fewer credits or using a semester to complete an internship. Ultimately, it doesn’t tell you much about the actual success of the students who choose this college or university.

A more effective question would be regarding the institution’s retention rate from freshman to sophomore year. If most students are returning for their sophomore year, it is a safe bet that they are well-adjusted, thriving, and enjoying their experience there. Alternatively, if the percentage of students transferring elsewhere or dropping out entirely is high, it’s worth finding out why.

Question 2: What Kind of Opportunities are There for *Insert Your Priority*?

Have you always dreamed of studying abroad in Paris? Do you have your heart set on playing a sport intramurally? If there is anything about the experience that will make or break your decision, ask about those opportunities before you commit. Especially if it is a dealbreaker. Campus-specific questions like these are in your Admission Counselor’s expertise, so use them as the resource that they are. Ask what programs are available and how the institution supports them.

Question 3: Campus Safety

Can you request an escort after dark? How responsive is campus security? It is very sensible to ask about the crime rate and security measures. Most campuses are pretty dang safe, but won’t you sleep a little better knowing you did your research? Your mom certainly will.

Question 4: When Can You Take a Campus Tour?

Don’t skip this step. If you’re seriously considering a post-secondary school, ask your Admissions Counselor when you can schedule a campus tour.

No matter how good the brochures look, nothing will tell you more than doing a full walk around the grounds. Check out the dorms in person (and take a good whiff!). Pay attention to the students. More than likely, you’re seeing them on a typical day, so take note of how comfortable they seem. Imagine yourself with a backpack and sprinting across campus to an 8 o’clock English 101 class. Does it feel good?

Commit with Confidence

Committing to a college or university is a huge decision and should be made with careful thought. Your Admissions Counselor knows you have questions and they want to help, so don’t hesitate. With a little due diligence and using the resources at hand, you can confidently make that decision.

Are you looking for more? Read University Applications: Timeline and Guide next.