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7 Key Questions to Ask a College Admissions Officer – And what NOT to ask!

You’ve heard, endlessly, about the high level of competition for plum spots at state universities and big name colleges alike. Increasingly, being selected for admission is about standing out.  How can you “shine” at those upcoming college fairs, college nights, and college interviews?

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Conventional wisdom throws you a long list of questions to ask college reps–many will quickly cause them to roll their eyes because you are wasting their time and yours.      

Avoid these standard questions:

  1. When are tours offered?
  2. What is your enrollment deadline?
  3. What are the most popular majors at this college? 
  4. How many students are enrolled at your college?
  5. What is the average class size?
  6. What extracurricular opportunities are available on campus?

Impress a college admissions official by doing your own homework. You can quickly research all of these questions yourself by merely visiting a college’s website or catalog. And don’t you agree that most admissions officers would be put off by a student not knowing any of this? 

Ask these fresh questions instead. They will provide you with insight into a school’s uniqueness–and win you a few points as well.

  1. What is the goal of your school’s education?
  2. Who succeeds here?
  3. How is the enrollment changing?
  4. What kind of students do you like to attract?
  5. How do some students fall short?
  6. What is the best way to prepare for your school?
  7. What do you wish students knew about your school?

Each one of these questions causes the college representative to dig deep to respond to you. Ask your question. Then, really listen and absorb their response.

Admissions office personnel will appreciate your fresh approach and take notice of you. And you’ll gain valuable knowledge to help you select and gain admission to the college that’s right for you.

Susan Curtis is the editor of Stairway to College. Susan received her B.A. in Psychology from Smith College. She did research for Jean Piaget, the celebrated Swiss educator, and Howard Gardner, whose work on multiple intelligences has had a profound impact on practice in education. She applies these innovative approaches in all her counseling work with young people. She did graduate work at the Graduate Institute o Susan Curtis, publisher of Stairway to College: Navigate the College Admissions Process with Ease.f International Studies ) in Geneva, Switzerland. She has been an alumnae interviewer for her alma mater. As a college coach, Susan has helped young people build their self-knowledge, identify their unique strengths and select the steps to achieve their academic and career goals. She helps students position themselves for success in all aspects of their life. Founding faculty member of the Living Purpose Institute, she also teaches workshops to adults and college bound students to identify and achieve one’s life purpose.


Susan has helped hundreds of individuals reach and exceed their professional goals while serving clients such as America Online, The Financial Times of London, and other publishing, and Internet companies.

She is also the founding publisher of The Balancing Act Magazine, and Mobile Office Magazine. With 25+ years of leadership experience in publishing, marketing and promotion Susan is listed in Who’s Who, Executive Edition.

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