This summer, I have had the opportunity to be a tour guide at Swarthmore College. Averaging two tours each day, I come in contact with a variety of prospective students, each of them asking various types of questions. I get asked everything from “What is Club X like?” to “What is your average class size?”. Some students or parents find it clever to ask whether or not the food is actually good on campus. After giving so many tours, I began to think of questions that I would have asked if I was touring colleges. Asking a couple of other friends as well, I have uncovered six interesting questions that actually matter in your daily life in college.
- Is there free printing?While you might not think of this immediately, this is an important question to ask in the long-run. Think if the number of readings you will have, papers, lab reports, projects… Printing at many colleges costs about 5 to 10 cents per page. Other colleges have a weekly quota of how many pages you can print. A few colleges, like Swarthmore, have free unlimited printing. So save yourself the trouble (and change) and ask your tour guide this essential question.
- Are you allowed to bring food into the libraries?It may seem like a silly question at first, but personally, I could not go to a college that does not allow you to bring food into the library. In college, the library is a great space in which a lot of students get the majority of their work done. During crunch times, such as reading periods before finals, students can stay from dawn to midnight in the library—therefore, the ability to have snacks, drinks, or even full meals in the library can be a vital resource.
- Do you have textbooks on reserve? If so, how many classes have these books on reserve?If the printing costs do not get you, the price of textbooks almost definitely will. Students can find themselves spending anywhere from $150-$400 in textbook costs. If the college or university has these textbooks on a reserved or reference section in the library, it could save you literally hundreds of dollars.
- Is the campus bike-able and if so, is there a bike loan option?Depending on your campus size, you might want to bring a bike to college to get to classes and back to your dorm. At some colleges, however, this option is impractical—so instead of lugging your bike all the way to campus and realizing that it is actually worse to bike around campus than to walk, ask this question. In addition, if you live far away from this college or do not own a bike, ask if they have a bike share program on campus where you can borrow a bike from the college.
- Are there college or university shuttles to airports/train stations for longer break?Another important question to ask if you are from out of state or country is whether or not it provides free transportation to nearby airports or train stations for the longer breaks. If not, ask how much it costs to get a taxi. This is another question that will save you trouble in the long run.
- How much do events cost on campus / how many events are free on campus and open to all students?In the college information session or tour, you might hear about all the great events happening on campus for students. However, the question of how many of them are actually free, or at least reasonably priced, is extremely important. At Swarthmore, we are known as a “cash free” campus, where all events on campus are free and open to all students. This has definitely affected my social life and involvement on campus.