There's nothing like walking around campus and talking with students and professors to determine whether you'll be comfortable at a particular college or university. Iowa Private College Week is a perfect opportunity to visit a couple - or as many as 10 - of the 29 private colleges in Iowa.
To get the most out of a campus visit, it helps to review the institution's mission statement in advance so you know its main focus. Admission counselors suggest visitors prepare some general questions and decide what they definitely want to see. The list should be the same for each college so that it's easy to make comparisons.
Another thing you can do in advance is to make sure you know where to go to start your campus visit, usually the admission office or visitor's center. Get detailed directions so you don't get lost.
During Iowa Private College Week, you will be visiting several campuses in a short time, so there's a definite danger of sensory overload. Making notes as you go will help once you get home and begin to sort out and evaluate all that you've seen and experienced.
Ask questions of everyone you meet, not just your official tour guides.
* What is the college's student-to-faculty ratio?
* Do professors welcome visits and questions?
* Who actually teaches the classes first-year students take - experienced professors or graduate students?
* Can undergraduate students work with a faculty member doing academic or scientific research?
* Where are the best places to study?
* How many books and periodicals are in the library?
* Has the library kept up with scientific discoveries and new information?
* What kind of scientific equipment is available in laboratories?
* How big are laboratory classes?
* Do students need to bring their own computers? If so, what are the requirements?
* If computers are provided for students, are they up-to-date?
* How difficult is it to find an open computer during midterms or finals?
* Are there computer hook-ups in the residence halls?
* What programs and majors are offered?
* How often are classes or sections closed to students who need to take them?
* How many students study abroad during their college years?
* What off-campus programs are offered?
* What internship or career exploration opportunities are available to students?
* How diverse is the student body?
* What types of cultural activities are offered on campus or in town?
* What opportunities are available for community service?
* What role do athletics play in campus life and what are the major sporting events?
* What is the cafeteria like and what kind of food does it serve?
* How many students have cars on campus? What's the parking situation?
* What's there to do on weekends?
* What percentage of students return for their sophomore year?
* How long do most students take to complete the core or general requirements? Four years? Five years? Longer?
* What happens to students after they graduate? How many go on to graduate or professional school and earn advanced degrees?
* What career and counseling services are provided?
For more information about Iowa Private College Week, call 800-397-8970 or visit the ThinkIndependently.com web site. Reservations, although not required, are encouraged and can be made on the web site. Reservations may also be made at any of the following 29 participating colleges and universities:
AIB College of Business in Des Moines, Allen College in Waterloo, Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Central College in Pella, Clarke College in Dubuque, Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Dordt College in Sioux Center, Drake University in Des Moines, Graceland University in Lamoni, Grand View College in Des Moines, Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Loras College in Dubuque, Luther College in Decorah, Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, Morningside College in Sioux City, Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Northwestern College in Orange City, St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Simpson College in Indianola, The Franciscan University in Clinton, University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Waldorf College in Forest City, Wartburg College in Waverly, and William Penn University in Oskaloosa.