I always find it reassuring when a candidate brings questions to a discussion, and even more so when they are written questions. As an admissions officer, I am concerned with assessing motivation, fit, and communications, among other things. When a candidate takes time to prepare questions and write them out, it makes a positive impression. Unfortunately that means most candidates don’t take the time to think through their questions or concerns enough to write them out.
Why it is important to prepare admissions questions
You have limited time to spend with the admissions director or officer and want to make the most of it. Remember there are two purposes to the meeting or discussion: get your questions answered and to impress the admissions committee. A prepared list helps you make sure nothing is missed in the conversation and lets you guide the conversation through issues you find important. An additional benefit is that if you discuss the same question set with each of the different programs you are considering, you can more easily compare them and establish meaningful differences. This will be important if you gain admission to multiple programs and have a tough time deciding where to commit.
Don’t be afraid to show that you have a written, prepared set of questions. Admissions officers will appreciate the thoughtful preparation, and it will help you impress them as a serious candidate. It is evidence that you care enough to put time into the selection and application process, and an indication of the kind of student you may be, if admitted.
If you want to be an average, typical candidate…
…do nothing. Try to create your questions on the fly. Try to remember all the questions you had a various times before. More times than not, this approach falls short of delivering all the information you seek, and it is a missed opportunity to impress the admissions committee. This will not sink your chance of admission at all, but it is a sign that you didn’t think enough of the program or the opportunity for discussion to prepare thoughtfully. It could be construed as a sign you may also be a less serious student than others that do put the extra effort into preparing written questions.