I always find it interesting to hear what factors students themselves feel are important as they investigate colleges.
There are topics and issues that guidance counselors and parents think should be on kids’ minds, and there are topics that are really on their minds. As a College Prep Parent, you can learn a lot about what your kid is thinking by overhearing them discussing what matters to them – when they talk to friends, when you take them to a college fair, etc. (Of course, because I was my children’s guidance counselor, I got to hear what was on their minds all the time during their junior high and high school years!)
This is the time of year when college fairs and college visits to our high school campus are frequent. In the past two weeks, I made a point to take notes on the specific questions our junior and senior students asked the college representatives. These reps came from private and state schools, secular and Christian. The questions below seemed to be on students’ minds the most, after reps shared about each school’s most popular majors and programs.
So whether this is another chance to learn what your kid might be thinking about, or a chance to coach them to add a few questions to the interview habit they’re developing, here’s what I overheard recently…
Do you offer study abroad programs?
“The world has gotten smaller.” This is true in business, and it is true in education. Some students asking this question seem to be curious about life outside the USA in general (and see study abroad programs as a way to get there). Some have their sights set on a major like international business. Others have been encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and get stretched academically or spiritually.
Do you have internships?
I think the word is out that many people get jobs from internships taken during the college years. Our recent college reps all seemed to be ready for this question, with stories of companies large and small recruiting on campus or going through academic departments to find interested students. I’ve been picking up on a lot of concern from my students that their education needs to lead to a job – something that didn’t always seem to be as high a concern with high schoolers in the past.
Do you have mentorships?
Some colleges have structures in place for providing faculty mentors to mentor interested students. Other schools have community contacts that can provide someone to mentor students in certain fields of study. My students find that not all schools have these programs in place – and where they are found, the specifics can vary widely.
I find it interesting that students are looking for this in college. My guess is that some of our students’ interest is due to a successful mentoring program we have on our campus (from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade). Older students act as mentors to younger students, so many students have seen very positive benefits from being “mentees.”
Do you have Greek life?
Students commonly ask our college rep visitors about the presence of sororities and fraternities on their campuses. Some of the follow-up questions indicated to me that certain students have a lot of knowledge about the Greek system and want to be involved. Other times, I got the feeling students really wanted a feel for how robust campus life is, in general. A similar question I hear often is about intramural sports. Some students think they want to play, while others are curious about how active the student body is.
Do you have mandatory chapel?
When a Christian college representative visits, this is usually asked. Whenever I hear this question – whatever the answer is – I pay attention to whether the student thinks the school’s chapel program is a positive or a negative thing. Because of my long involvement with the chapel program at our Christian school, of course I hope my students view collegiate chapel options as positive. (I wrote in an earlier post about a student who chose her school because she saw students participating heartily – instead of halfheartedly – in campus chapel.)
For those colleges that do have a chapel program, it is informative for students to hear the school rep explain the philosophy behind their emphasis on chapel (as well as explaining the reasoning for any requirements they do or don’t have).
Do you have “double majors”?
I heard this question asked of many of the schools at a recent college fair. For whatever reason, the thought of only majoring in one field of study seems limiting to some of my students. Different schools have different terms for it, but whether a school is set up with majors, minors, concentrations, or “areas of emphasis,” some high school students feel they need to be able to keep their options open. I hear students talk about people they know who have double majors (or dual concentrations), and they think of them as academic rock stars. I think every high school kid could use a little of that kind of inspiration!