Developing the Right Questions to Research Schools and Colleges

Eager to find out more about a potential school or college? Prepping for a campus visit or interview? The road to inquiry begins with asking the right questions.

Way back in my days of prepping to be a journalist in college, we were introduced to a basic exercise and key words to facilitate our preparation for asking primary questions. I recall the basics as:

To what extent . . .?

While these fundamental questioning tools for gathering information still remain true, it is often difficult in our state of technology to prepare students more comprehensively to ask questions; students are more accustomed to text exchanges than withstanding an entire conversation with an adult.

The context of questioning can be segmented by broadly framing questions followed by narrowing down, creating a funnel:

You would not ask, Do you have business as a major? Or, Do you have community service options? Look that up on the site.

Instead, you might ask, What minors best align with the international business major? Or, How many community service trips are offered during spring break?

It is also essential to prepare meaningful questions that you would ask all schools/colleges to get a better sense of a theme or culture around a particular area. For example, What types of events take place as part of your community chapel service? Or, Can on-campus research projects be extended to a study abroad program?

When students are seeking to find more information about what they do not know or clarify/affirm something they know or have just found out, perhaps on a tour or visit, they will want to consider follow up questions, often utilizing the “to what extent. . . ?” question in some manner.

The basis for asking strong questions relies on the person’s ability to be prepared to ask thoughtful questions by doing research. Since most searches are done online, we suggest that students follow a few guidelines while researching questions that might be relevant to the search.


  1. Consider the 5-10 click rule. Be sure you enter a website 5-10 clicks (or more) through the basic information to do research about a question. This assures that you have gone more deeply and can ask a question that is closer to the bottom of the funnel.
  2. Know the basics to avoid asking the broad ‘who, what, when, where, why’ type questions.
  3. Avoid looking at opinion blog posts about schools, colleges, teachers or coaches as they tend to strongly share an individual experience that may not be relevant to your own interests, desires and needs. Things change!

Doing some preparation in advance of an interview or campus visit can go a long way gathering meaningful responses that better inform your decision about your school or college choice. Also, consider practicing how you ask questions to someone you know. This is helpful in a world of texting, snapchat and Pokemon Go.

Who you are and what you want are important when you are considering where your next excellent adventure will take you and how you will get there. So why not get started on your road to inquiry?

About The Author

Kim Chorosiewski, Ed.D., CSCS, CMAA