Oberlin Blogs

The Journey of a Thousand Questions

September 18, 2020

Cora K. Hasegawa ’19

Not all questions are created equal. As an admissions counselor, I get asked a wide variety of questions and I’m always excited to talk in detail about what makes Oberlin truly special. I believe a discerning question gets you more than just statistics and data, it gives you a greater sense of what the true experience at a school is like. My goal is to help you figure out how to ask the right questions to find your perfect fit. 

Dead End and Research Questions

Dead end questions are simple questions that only require a yes or no answer. Not only does it make it hard to keep a conversation going, but these are also questions you could easily find the answers to on the school’s website. Research questions can also be very general and I often see them in emails. Questions along the line of “Tell me about your school” are hard to answer because there is so much that we can say but we don’t know what you would find interesting. They can also suggest a lack of research on your part. Anyone who is working in a college admissions office loves talking about their school — it’s why we do what we do. We want to help you immerse yourself in our school in a way that’s specific to your interests so instead I suggest asking discerning questions. 

Personalized Questions

Personalized questions give you a greater sense of connection to the college experience. I always recommend asking questions that anyone who has a relationship with the college — an administrator, alum, professor, student walking across campus — could answer. Questions like “Why did you choose this college?” or “What are a few things you like about this college?” can be insightful because everyone has their own experience with the school, and consequently their answers will give you a wide variety of perspectives. Even though you might adjust these questions based on the individual’s relationship to the college, they will always help you understand the college on a deeper level. Personalized questions are also good because you can recycle them and get a variety of answers for all the colleges you’re interested in. I’d recommend taking notes so you can compare everyone’s responses and see what kind of picture it paints of the variety of experiences that stand out at a given college. My guess is that there will be certain themes and traits that will emerge for each school. 

Ultimately, a question is only helpful if it helps you learn about more than just the numbers, and good questions always help you move past the numbers. So get your questions ready and fire away, we can’t wait to talk with you.

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