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Top Ten Questions for Prospective Students to Ask Colleges

As Hurricane Irene was predicted to hit about the time many college students were moving into dorms, it was interesting to see the varying responses from institutions. Some evacuated or delayed arrivals on campus, while others went ahead with the scheduled move-ins or left it up to families. I know of some students whose first night at school coincided with the arrival of the storm—talk about bonding with new roommates.

The policies and communication with families apparent in this storm reflect the cultural differences and safety approaches on campuses. This experience underscores the need to dig a little deeper when visiting prospective schools to see if the institution is indeed a place you trust for your child and where he or she will feel comfortable.

When shopping around for colleges, it can be hard to really pick up on what sets them apart from their competitors. They all highlight positive aspects of their schools in their information sessions and begin to sound alike.

To get a better picture, author Robyn Hadley offers the following questions to ask colleges in your search for the right fit. These are from her new book, "Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey" (Samuel Stone Press):

1. What is the size of the student body and the average class size for freshmen?

2. What major fields of study is the school known for and how do these match with your child's interest?

3. Will there be sufficient extracurricular activities and structured social gatherings so that your child can get to know others and find where he or she belongs?

4. What does the school offer in extracurricular activities, including sports and other club activities?

5. What types of internship opportunities are available at the school?

6. What recruitment opportunities does the school offer to graduating students?

7. What is the average score on standardized tests (SAT, ACT) of incoming freshmen?

8. What is the average GPA of incoming freshmen?

9. What is the male/female ratio of undergraduate students?

10. What percentage of the incoming freshmen actually graduate from the college?

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