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Higher Education in Maryland

Questions about College --  Choosing a College


A college should match student's needs.  Colleges offer different types of degrees, majors, social and physical environments, and support services.  The student should feel challenged but also comfortable.  Ask questions and compare!  Find the best fit.  (See the "Maryland Colleges" section for more information about types of colleges).  The topics below pertain to most colleges, including community colleges.

Do the degrees offered by the school meet my career goals?

  • Some jobs require specialized degrees.  To become an architect, a person must have a degree in architecture--however only some colleges offer architecture programs.  To be a nurse, a person may need an associate degree, a bachelor's degree, or a graduate degree.  Not all colleges offer nursing programs, and those that do offer different kinds of programs.
  • Students should work with their school counselors and research so they find the colleges that have the academic programs that interest them.
  • Students can search for academic programs available at Maryland colleges at

studying student

What if I don't know what to major in or do for a career?

All students should be encouraged to speak with school counselors, academic advisors, and career services staff about possible careers and jobs in those fields.  They should also talk to people who work in fields that seem interesting to them.

For a start check out and

What high school grades are required for college?

  • This depends on the college.  The high school counselor can make some recommendations and college admissions staff will offer advice about their own colleges.
  • Some people become much better students in college and transfer to more competitive colleges after a year or two.  Always keep in mind that college is possible (See also "Steps for Applying.").

Make sure the college is properly accredited!
Colleges can be accredited in different ways, but they should at least be accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  Type in the school name at the department's site.

What do students say about the college?
To learn what a college is like in and out of the classroom, it's best to visit and talk to students and staff.  (See "Visiting Colleges.")  Are students happy with their college choice?  What do they like best?  What do they wish they could change?

Will I feel comfortable on this campus?

  • Research the college online and visit it, whether it's a two-year or four-year college.
  • Check out "Studying There" & "Living There" for questions to help guide your decisions.  Don't feel that all questions have to be answered--discuss which ones seem most important to your success.
  • If the college offers interviews, the student should take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the college and to have the college staff learn about the student.

Some colleges offer or require interviews.
Admissions information will explain if an interview is required for admission.  Some colleges offer informational interviews that are not part of the admissions process.  The college website may have information about interviews.  Contact the college admissions office if you have questions about interviews with college staff or about alumni interviews.

What are college interviews like?
Interviews help students learn about colleges and college staff to learn about prospective students.  Both the student and the college are looking for a good "fit."  Students should research the college before the interview.

Interviews are usually held in the admissions office with members of their staff.  Here are a few quick interview pointers for students:

  • Be on time.  Try to arrive about 15 minutes early.
  • Be honest.  The students and the college want to find the right fit.
  • Speak, dress, and act professionally.  Don't be overly formal, but don't use slang.  Business casual dress is appropriate (conservative skirts or pants and blouses or sweaters for girls and slacks with a polo shirt, sweater, or jacket for boys).  Offer a firm handshake, make eye contact, show interest in the conversation by responding appropriately and asking questions, and speak with confidence (but not arrogance).
  • Be prepared to ask questions.  Students may take a list of questions to the interview to help them remember what they want to learn about the college.  It's not a good idea to take notes during the interview, but the student should make notes just after the interview to remember important points.
  • Be prepared to answer questions.  Some questions may be specific ("What do you want to major in?")  and some may be general ("Tell me about yourself").  Students may be asked why they want to attend the college, what majors interest them, and what their long-term goals are.  They may also be asked about their academic record, strengths and weaknesses, and what they can contribute to the life of the college.  Students should be familiar with admission requirements before the interview.
  • Send a thank-you note after the interview.  Ask for the interviewer's name or business card so you can address the note to the right person.

Can the college put you in touch with one of their local graduates?
Some colleges offer alumni interviews.  These may not officially be part of an application process, but students should take them seriously and use them to learn about the college.  Keep in mind that these interviewers are volunteers and will be positive about college.

More information on Maryland Colleges



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