A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College: Questions to ask on your college visits

Share the mobile link with prospective students!


Click here to view the mobile version or use the QR code below to access a streamlined mobile version of NSSE’s pocket guide.

Learn more about the NSSE Pocket Guide in this short YouTube video

“I have given the Pocket Guide to my 10th and 11th grade students for years. I keep copies in the office as well. I know from experience that the questions included are really useful.”
—Karen Miller, Director of College Counseling, The Park School of Buffalo, NY

“No other ranking or guidebook offers the depth of analysis for prospective students and their families found in NSSE.” 
—Stephanie Fabritius, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Centre College

“We serve families in South and East Los Angeles. Both areas have a large amount of Spanish-speaking families, so we will provide these to parents during our workshops. We are very excited to use the guides as they center around student engagement and looking at schools beyond prestige or proximity to the home.”
—Carmen Soto, College Advisor, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Through College, CA

Finding a Good Fit

Selecting the right college is one of the most important decisions a student will make. Parents and school counselors play a major role in helping students gather and evaluate information on potential schools. To get a sense of how likely a student is to learn, grow, and develop at a given institution, parents and students need to ask the right questions about the schools they visit or explore on the Web. To help them, the NSSE pocket guide includes suggestions for questions to ask of key people that they will meet - the tour guide, admissions staff, and currently enrolled students. A Spanish version of the pocket guide, Una Guia de Bolsillo Para Escoger una Universidad: Preguntas a hacer en tus visitas universitarias, is also available.

Questions Based on NSSE

The majority of questions in the pocket guide are aligned with survey items from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Each year NSSE collects information directly from thousands of students at hundreds of colleges and universities. Responses to the survey provide valuable information about what is actually going on in the lives of students and the quality of their college experience. Although our agreement with schools prevents us from reporting the results for specific colleges and universities, many schools provide their NSSE results to prospective students if asked, or post results on their institutional Web site. NSSE also provides a list of colleges that have participated in the survey.

For more detailed information on the NSSE survey that may be of help to your students and their parents, see the FAQ for parents and students. Even if a school does not participate in NSSE, the pocket guide is still a very useful tool for getting answers to questions about the college experience.

Evidence-Based Improvement in Higher Education

Center for Postsecondary Research
Indiana University
School of Education
201 N. Rose Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-1006
Phone: 812.856.5824
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