Tip of the Month: Overnight Visits

Perfect fit at first sight!

It happens to college-bound students each year. You peruse a website, watch some videos, take a campus tour, talk to admission folks, and decide then and there College X is where you belong. But hold on a second, shouldn’t you dig a little deeper? Maybe take College X for a test drive? Or as I like to call it, an overnight visit.

Overnight visits are the best way for you to experience a college firsthand. You are hosted by a current student, spend the night in a residence hall, eat dining hall food, have the opportunity to attend classes, and get the unfiltered version of the College X student experience.

Sound exciting? Of course it does, but before you pop open a new browser tab and sign up for one, be sure to read my 5 tips for planning an overnight visit:

  1. Definitely spend the night at College X if you’re admitted. However, if offered, do it during the fall for select colleges you are taking seriously. The experience may confirm your feelings, or turn them sideways. At the very least, it’ll give you a few more things to think about.
  2. Come up with a game plan. Most programs don’t provide a structured visit so prepare a list of classes you’d like to sit in on, activities and clubs you want to find out more about, and staff, faculty and coaches you’d like to meet. Also consider shadowing your host for the evening to see what a typical weeknight is like; that could be you a year from now.
  3. Pack what you’d bring for a sleepover – A pillow, sleeping bag, towel, toiletries and clothes. Some colleges provide cots, others won’t. Your host may have a spare mattress or couch, or just cozy floor space for one. Ask each college what you should bring, though it doesn’t hurt to be over-prepared.
  4. Meet everyone you can. A good host will orient you to the campus, introduce you to other students, and answer a lot of your questions. Their experience, however, is just one of many at College X. Venture out and talk to as many students as possible. These honest and often personal encounters will give you a well-rounded picture of the student experience there.
  5. Make the most of your time on campus. Take a campus tour and attend information session, even if you’ve done it before. Campus may have changed since your last visit, and you likely have as well. Also be sure to schedule an admission interview if offered. Just try not to pull an all-nighter with your host if your interview is the next morning. We’d like to meet you at your best.