10-Step Campus Culture Quiz

Written by: Joyce Slayton Mitchell

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As parents we all want our children to find the right school, one that is a good match, but how do we help steer them in the right direction? Here is a clever quiz designed by college consultant Joyce Slayton Mitchell called the Campus Culture Quiz. Joyce claims it teaches students (and parents) way more than they realize. As Joyce states: “It gets them away from rank and major for 15 minutes, and everyone likes it because it’s FUN!  HS counselors love it too, for the same reasons.” This is a great learning tool and a wonderful guide to use at the beginning of your college selection process. Try it, we did and as Joyce said it’s fun!


Who is this kid behind that GPA and those SAT scores?

The colleges want to know.  You want to know!


Talking to a sophomore at the University of Maryland, the young man explained, “I transferred to the architecture program and they dropped it for financial reasons my first semester.”  “Why didn’t you transfer?”  “Because I love it here!”  Students leave college because they don’t’ fit in.  They stay because it’s a great match, the place where they can relax enough to feel confident as they live and learn at their best. Where will you fit in?  What’s the best college culture for you?  The person you want to be. Take this: 10-Step Quiz and find out.


Choose one for each question

1. What is your favorite school club or activity?

a. SAT prep group

b. environmental club

c. sports

d. philosophy club

e. music or drama club


2.  You’re planning Friday night with your friends, do you go with the kids to the

a. battle of the bands

b. USA-China exchange student program

c. high school arts festival 

d. science fair workshop

e.   climate change film 


3. What was or is your favorite subject in junior year?

a. art, music, or dance class

b.   chemistry or physics

c. social science

d. history

e.   English literature


4.    What kind of student are you?

a.   I like to read and discuss in small study groups everything an author writes

b. I like time and space to try new mediums and designs for my ideas

c. I like to study in the library until I really understand my homework before I relax

d. I like to do my homework and leave plenty of time to work on my community service projects

e. I study my favorite subjects and don’t mind winging it once in a while for the rest


5. What’s your favorite sport or recreation activity?

a. the gym: treadmill, rowing machine, weights

b. biking, kayaking, camping out

c. team sports: football, basketball, and baseball  

d. tennis, swimming, and the gym

e. yoga, dance


6. What do you consider your best quality to highlight on your college application?

a. curiosity

b. imagination

c. work ethic

d. compassion

e. loyalty


7. When you daydream about Saturday night at college, what will you be doing?

a. fund-raising for a water purification group

b. cheering for the home team

c. attending a Dostoevsky lecture

d. attending the city Philharmonic concert

e. attending an event for medical research internships


8. You are filling out your housing form for college.  Where will you want to live?

a. a condo near campus

b.  theme house on campus

c.  fraternity or sorority house

d,  living and learning center

e.  downtown apartment


9.   Imagine walking on campus and it begins to snow, what are you talking about?

a. the ski report for Saturday

b. the Jean-Paul Sartre film on Saturday

c. the winter photography show 

d. selling pizzas in the dorms for all of the snow-bounds this weekend

e. the special needs at the soup kitchen this weekend


10. What kind of friends do you hope to have when you get to college?

a. innovative friends who like to go to performances and art galleries

b. serious friends who are in college to get ahead in the world

c. friends who take action for justice

d. friends who show up at the games and know how to have a good time

e. friends who rather socialize with a few than party with a crowd  



Circle each letter you chose for all ten questions.  Go down each vertical color column, starting with question one through question ten, and give yourself ten points for each letter that you chose.  Add them up! Let’s say you have 7 red, 2 gold, and 1 blue.   That would be 70 % Collegiate, 20%  Preprofessional, and 10% Creative.  Match your scores with the College Culture descriptions below.   


      Red   Purple  Blue    Gold    Green  

1.           c             d               e               a                b

2.           a             b               c              d                 e

3.           d             e               a              b                 c

4.          e              a               b              c                 d   

5.           c             d               e               a                 b

6.           e             a               b              c                 d

7.           b             c                d              e                 a

8.           c            d                 e              a                 b

9.           a            b                 c              d                 e

10.         d             e                 a              b                 c


College Culture Descriptions


Red: Collegiate college culture such as University of Texas, Duke, Northwestern, Georgetown, Penn State, Vanderbilt, or smaller and collegiate such as Colgate, Denison, and Wake Forest. A college culture where you will find big sports, fraternities, and where you will talk about sports, parties, and friends between classes and in the dorms.  

Purple: Intellectual college culture such as Carleton, Chicago, Grinnell, Pomona, and Swarthmore where you and your friends will spend your time talking about books you’ve read, where you will continue your discussions from class, argue and debate about academics, politics, and economics.  

Blue: Creative college culture for design and performing arts majors such as conservatories Julliard and Oberlin or design schools such as Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah School of Arts and Design where you and your friends will talk and sing between classes and in the dorms about the arts, practice sessions, gallery openings, fashion and upcoming performances.  

Gold: Preprofessional college culture where you and your friends talk between classes and in the dorms about GPAs, MCATs, GREs, LSATs, M.B.A.’s, start-up companies, Steve Jobs, the global economy, medical and law school, business, engineering and architecture schools, such as Cornell, Purdue, UNC, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Berkeley,University of Illinois, and Carnegie Mellon.

Green: Activist college culture where your friends and you will protest, organize, demonstrate, boycott, and talk about human rights, animal rights, environmental, and climate issues between classes, in the dorms, and on the quad such as Grinnell, Haverford, Oberlin, Pitzer, and Wesleyan. 


How did you do?   Are you strongest in Collegiate?  Second in Preprofessional?   Is an Activist culture important to you?   Remember that these categories are determined by what students talk about outside of the classroom.  You know, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Between classes, in the dorm, the locker room, the student union, at the games, having a coffee, in the library and everywhere you will go. College culture is the heart of student life on campus. 

Think about it.  Does it make sense?  With your best college cultures match in mind, you are now ready to research the colleges with the most “you” in the college culture as an important ingredient of how you choose where you will apply to go to college. The more you know about your match, the better college list you will have – leading to the best college choice for you.  The colleges all want to know why you think that their college is a good fit for you.  Knowing each college culture will be your best bet!



**Joyce Slayton Mitchell served 17 years as the Director of College Advising at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, five years as Director of College Advising in Newark Academy, NJ, and five years at Greenwich High School, CT. She currently is a Sino-American Consultant in Education specializing in US College Admissions in China. Mitchell is the author of forty-one works of nonfiction, including: 8 First Choices, 2017, and College Culture: What’s My Match?                                 


• Adapted from 8 First Choices, third edition, 2017, by Joyce Slayton Mitchell