6 Questions To Ask Every University Representative
I’ve been representing universities for many years now and through countless consultations with prospective students and their parents, I’ve found that asking the right question can really improve your research process.
Very often, prospective students like yourself reach out to university representatives without the right questions, but it’s not their fault. With so many providers out there, there’s bound to be quite a bit of confusion.
Here are the six questions university representatives don’t want you to ask.
Question #1 Who are the academics teaching the programs?
This is one of the most important questions most people tend to forget. Who teaches you is as important as what you learn. Asking this question will reveal a lot.
Are classes mostly taught by part-time or adjunct academics? Do these part-timers have full-time jobs or their own business to run once they’re done with classes? Will they have time before and after school hours for consultations?
Are the academics research practitioners with PhDs? I’ll say that this is especially important. There’s a reason why the local universities only hire PhD academics – so that students can learn from highly qualified subject experts who are on the frontline in the development of new knowledge.
Question #2. Is this a University?
This question might sound silly, but most institutions are run by third party providers who are careful to use many different synonyms like academy or institute in their name but stop short of using the word “university”. In most cases, the programs at these institutions are delivered by the third party providers rather than from the Universities themselves, or by academics who have to fly in and out of the country as they are not based in Singapore.
Question #3. Is the program offered in Singapore the same as what’s offered in the home country?
You might wonder why this would be relevant to you if you’re not considering studying abroad. However, you will be surprised that some of the degree programs offered locally might differ from what is being offered in the home countries such as UK, US or Australia.
It’s only prudent for you to verify that the title of the degree and the subjects/modules in the program match those listed on the awarding university’s website. Your future employer will find it suspicious if they look at the transcripts and find that the modules or degree title awarded to you don’t match up with what’s on the university’s website. You really have to do your due diligence while doing research.
Question #4. Does the University have its own campus?
I guess it is relatively important when it comes to your own education.
A good campus provides the right ambience to be conducive for not just learning but holistic development. Are there ample study areas? Communal spaces for students to gather, socialize and develop the necessary soft skills? Or will student activities and development be limited by the bylaws of the shopping mall the institution is located within?
We all have to agree that our environment plays an important part on influencing our personal growth and development.
Tip #5. What is the teaching and learning pedagogy?
You might first want to check how many hours of lessons there are in a day and in a week. Next, does the pedagogy rely very heavily on lectures? As jobs are being made obsolete due to the fourth industry revolution, you’ll want a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, promotes collaboration and encourages discourse.
Ideally, this should present itself as a mix of assignments/course works, quizzes, class tests, presentations and examinations.
While this may sound like a lot of work, it will help you gain, not only the knowledge but also the soft skills and practical hands-on experience that prepares you for the workforce. Think about it, even the Ministry of Education has changed its thinking on high stakes examinations at the primary and secondary school levels, moving away from streaming to subject-based banding.
Question #6. Is there “after-sales” or “value-added” service?
You’ve probably experienced this before: You go to a store to buy a high ticket item, while the salesperson is trying to close the deal, they’re nice and charming and will say almost anything to close the deal. But once you’ve made a purchase and need after-sales service, you’re stuck on the phone listening to elevator music waiting to get through to a customer service officer.
While it’s difficult to really see an education as a product, we can use the analogy of “after-sales” and “value-added” services.
Some key questions to get you going:
- If I need help or guidance, is there any support from the University?
- Are there clubs and societies available within the campus?
- How proactive is the career services department?
- Is there an active alumni association?
Now that you’ve been armed with these questions, go out and do your research and comparisons!
This post was co-written with Terence Lim.