How to Use This Guide

Picking the right college is a big decision.

Go on campus tours. Sit in on classes. Eat in dining halls. Look through recent issues of student newspapers. Check out the college website.

But most important, be prepared to ask a lot of questions when deciding on a college.

This guide offers key questions to ask tour guides, admissions staff, faculty, and students about how much their college will support your learning and development.


Ask questions that matter to your ability to learn, grow, and succeed in college.


Challenging intellectual and creative work is important to student learning. Better colleges and universities emphasize the importance of academic effort and have high expectations of their students.

To find out how challenging the academic programs are, ask...

Learning With Peers

Students learn more when they share what they are learning with others and work with each other on assignments or projects.

To find out how students collaborate in the learning process inside and outside of class, ask...

Experiences With Faculty

When students interact with faculty inside and outside of class, their teachers become role models and mentors.

To find out how well students and faculty interact, ask...

Rich Educational Opportunities

Experiencing a variety of educational opportunities makes learning more useful and meaningful.

To explore opportunities for learning, ask...

Campus Environment

Students perform better and are more satisfied when their institutions support them academically and socially.

To discover how students view the campus environment, ask ...


The questions in this guide are based on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Each year NSSE collects information directly from students at hundreds of colleges and universities. Responses to the survey provide valuable information about the lives of students and the quality of their college experiences.

Check to see if the college you are considering participates in NSSE. If it does, detailed information on the student experience may be available from the admissions or institutional research office. For a list of participating NSSE schools or for more information, please visit

Center for Postsecondary Research
Indiana University School of Education
1900 E. Tenth Street, Suite 419
Bloomington, IN 47406-7512
Phone: (812) 856-5824
Fax: (812) 856-5150