Ten Questions to Ask Before
Choosing a University
by Misty Mills
I decided to return to college, I went about the process
like most students. I filled out an application and
made an appointment with an admissions counselor. It
seemed like a reasonable thing to do, and it was. Looking
back, I realize there were a host of other resources
at my fingertips of which I was not aware.
Non-traditional college students have needs that traditional
students coming straight from high school do not have.
Unfortunately, many universities are not adept at answering
adults questions and addressing their special
circumstances. This is a list of ten things to
do and questions to ask which might help a returning
adult student decide which college will provide the
best fit with his or her lifestyle.
1. How often are classes offered at night or on
the weekends? This is particularly important if
you will continue working while you are a student. Do
not take the admissions officers word on this
one. Ask to see a list of degree requirements and course
schedules for the past several semesters. Cross-reference
these two items to see if the classes you will need
for your degree are offered on days and times that are
convenient. At some smaller universities, required courses
might not even be offered each semester due to a lack
of professors or class space or a minimum number of
2. Does the university offer married housing or
on-site daycare? Even if you are single and do not
have children, these services typify a university culture
that is accepting of non-traditional students. If you
are married or do have children, these services can
make attending classes easier.
3. Can I see some back issues of the student newspaper?
This is a great way to find out what is the student
bodys current complaint. If you will be living
at home and most of the editorials concern the low quality
of food on campus, you might not be worried. If you
are a commuting student and most complaints focus on
inadequate parking or lighting in commuter parking lots,
this might be a red flag.
Are students perturbed about the universitys
budget? Are the computer labs and software out of date?
Do the officials quoted in the student newspaper seem
to be upfront and honest? The student newspaper is a
wonderful place for students to voice their concerns
about the university, and most of the time, the officials
in the admissions and recruitment offices are slow to
tell prospective students about the universitys
4. Where are commuting students required to park?
At Texas Womans University in Denton, Texas, commuting
students are given parking at the center of campus and
residential students must park on the perimeter. TWU
is known for its ease of use for non-traditional students.
Knowing the answer to this question can also help you
determine whether the culture of a particular university
is accepting of returning students. Dont just
look at the parking lot on a map. Go there. Make the
walk to the buildings where your classes would most
likely be held. Imagine making this walk after a day
at the office. Also, ask yourself what the walk would
be like during the worst possible weather. Do you have
to cross a busy intersection?
What will traffic on nearby roads be at the
time you will be on campus?