5 Tough Questions to Ask Prospective Colleges

What to ask at fairs, interviews, and info sessions


Published:

Images courtesy of Tang Yan Song/Shutterstock.com

Caught up in the throes of the college search process, many teens are far more worried about what prospective colleges might ask them in an admissions interview than what they, as prospective students, should be asking the school’s representatives. We encourage students to flip this mindset 180 degrees and shine the interrogation light squarely in the eyes of the admissions representative. 

Share this column with your college-bound child. What follows are examples of the types of tough questions we recommend he or she pose to representatives at college fairs, information sessions, during formal admissions interviews or via email.

 

1. How does your college help students secure employment?

Essentially, you are asking for real data regarding career services. Ask the college representatives to provide information on job fairs, networking events and corporate recruiting efforts on campus. Which and how many companies attend the school’s job fairs? Do they track the number of on-campus interviews per year, and what percentage of students find employment directly through the efforts of the career services staff? Does the college have any formal corporate partners? What percentage of students are employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation? 

2. What percentage of students obtain internships? How do they find them? What kind of opportunities are available? 

When it’s all said and done, many college graduates cite their internship experiences as the most impactful part of their undergraduate education. While procuring an internship is ultimately the responsibility of the students themselves, some universities do a much better job than others at facilitating the process and connecting undergrads to meaningful opportunities for experiential learning. Certain schools (not only the most selective ones) regularly place interns at top technology, financial, engineering and consulting companies, while other colleges generate very few opportunities for their students. Finding out which category your prospective school falls into is of the utmost value. 

3. What undergraduate research opportunities are available?

Working alongside faculty as they conduct research and/or participate in a faculty-supervised independent research project can be the highlight of many students’ undergraduate educations. Yet, at some schools, such opportunities are primarily reserved for graduate students or hardly exist at all. Ask an admissions representative for data on undergraduate research at his or her school, as it varies greatly from institution to institution.  

4. Where do graduates continue their education?

For those students who are aiming to eventually attend law or medical school, ask how successful the schools’ graduates have been at gaining admission to such programs. Many schools track data such as: the average LSAT and MCAT scores obtained by their graduates, the overall law and medical school admissions rates for their institution’s graduates versus the national average, and the number of recent alumni who have been accepted to the top law/medical schools in the country. Comparable information should also be available for those pursuing other graduate degrees, such as doctorates. How does a school of interest fare at getting students into doctoral programs in various disciplines? Across all graduate/professional programs, which schools take the largest number of recent graduates? Have recent graduates had success gaining acceptance into elite programs in their field? 

5. How does your college differ from other comparable colleges?

This is a more general question than some of the previous ones on our list, but still one worth asking. If you are looking at Southern universities, you’ll want to know why Elon University, for example, might be a better fit for you than James Madison University, Furman University or High Point University. Tell the admissions representative about your unique interests, passions and talents to find out how this school might be a fit for your academic and outside-of-class pursuits. 

 

In addition to uncovering key pieces of information about prospective colleges, asking incisive questions will likely impress the admissions representative, demonstrating not only your attention to detail, but the depth of your interest in his or her institution.

 

Dave Bergman, Ed.D., is a co-founder of College Transitions, a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. He is also co-author of “The Enlightened College Applicant: A New Approach to the Search and Admissions Process.” Learn more at collegetransitions.com.

 

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College Transitions

Expert advice for finding the right fit


About This Blog

College Transitions is a team of college planning experts committed to guiding families through the college admissions process. As counselors and published higher education researchers, we aim to bring perspective (and some sanity) to college planning, and we strive to provide students with the support they need to enroll and succeed at a college that is right for them. Learn more at collegetransitions.com

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May 2020

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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Cost: FREE

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Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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Cost: $35 per Student

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820 E. Williams St.
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
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Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

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Cost: Donation Based

Where:
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Sponsor: Lionheart Fitness Kids
Telephone: 951-347-1555
Contact Name: Godfrey Griffin
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More information

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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: ActivityHero
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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Suite 215
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
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Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
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More information

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Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
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View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
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View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
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View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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More information

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Cost: Donation Based

Where:
Online Classes
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Sponsor: Lionheart Fitness Kids
Telephone: 951-347-1555
Contact Name: Godfrey Griffin
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: FREE

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Suite 215
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
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820 E. Williams St.
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View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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More information

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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Race Director
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More information

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Cost: $6

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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
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Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
Website »

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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
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PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
Website »

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It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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