Many students will be visiting colleges this spring. Rick Clark, director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech, shares how students can ask better questions – and better follow-up questions – to gain deeper information about each college.
Students often ask: “What is your faculty: student ratio?” This number however is not fully indicative of the student experience. A better question is: “What is your most common class size?” This question gets you right into the classroom. Schools rarely publish average SATs or GPAs but rather bands or ranges. Likewise, you want to look at their ranges and variances within class size. Georgia Tech’s most common class size is between 26 to 33, and around 7 percent of our courses have more than 100 students in them. Here are some follow-up questions: "How does class size vary from freshman year to senior year? Is that true for all majors? What does that look like for my major?"
Students often ask: “What’s your graduation rate?” Schools do not answer this the same. Some will give you a four-year grad rate, some a five-year rate, and some the six-year rate. The variance is not an effort to be misleading or nefarious; they have been trained to respond with an answer that is most representative of their students’ experience. A better question is: "What are your four and six-year graduation rates?" Good follow-up questions include: "At those two intervals what percentage have either a job offer or grad school acceptance letter? How does grad rate vary by major? What percentage of students who double major or study abroad or have an internship finish in four years?"
Students often ask: “What is your retention rate?” That’s a great question and an important one. Most put the national average somewhere in the 60 to 65 percent range. But as you can see from that link, it varies by school type and student type. If a college says its first-year retention rate is 85 percent, ask them to articulate who is leaving. Good follow-up questions include: "Why are those other 15 percent leaving? Is it financial? Is it because the football team lost too many games? Is it academic and they’re not prepared for the rigor of the school? Is it because the school is too remote or too urban or too big?" Tech has a retention rate of 97.3 percent, which is among the top 25 schools nationally and top five for publics. But we are constantly looking at who is leaving in an effort to better support our students.
Coming next week: Clark will share tips on the questions students should ask over and over again to as many people as possible on a college campus.
For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact: