Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

College Visits

Our counselors answered:

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

An overnight stay should be very important, and if you get one, be thankful. Make sure to have a change of clothes & whatever happens find out if it's typical or out of the ordinary. Don't assume anything, you can be painfully surprised. Be sure to follow whatever rules there are, and find out in advance - but you should have already known that. Hopefully you'll be able to audit a course or 2, talk to some professors on a one-to-one, and possibly present your credentials to some admissions folks & the provost - and don't for a minute think that's out of the question! I've had 10th & 11th graders meet w/chairmen of dept's & presidents of universities when the schools DON'T even have on campus interviews! It's all in the planning if you do it right.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

I think overnight stays are a huge bonus. Often they are only available to admitted students in an attempt to seal the deal. Because college students tend to stay up late, this gives you a chance to really see things in action. At the end of the day, students let their guard down and may be more candid than in a formal tour/info session. Go in to it with an open mind, you may be surprised by some of the behavior you witness.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Overnight stays can really make a difference in your understanding of a college. College tours, information sessions and events rarely take place at night. During your stay, you can see what happens at this time. Is the campus alive? Empty? Too much partying? This is a great way to learn more about a school and what you can expect if you decide to enroll. Prepare yourself by creating a list of questions you would like to have answered during your stay. Some of these may be asked of the student who you pair with, while others you will ask of yourself during the stay. When you return, review those questions and evaluate your experience while it is fresh in your mind.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Overnight stays, particularly those arranged through the college or university, can be your best tools in deciding if schools are right for you. To prepare, pack as you would for any overnight trip, but bring extra clothes to allow for comfortable, casual, and dressier attire. You may have a great host who exposes you to a variety of campus offerings or you could have a turkey who ditches you at some point to pursue his/her own agenda. Prepare for the “bad visit” by understanding that you may need to assert yourself, just as you will as an actual college student. You can learn more about a school in an overnight stay than you could in hours of reading or talking to students.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Overnight stays, particularly on a week-end night can really give you a sense of the scene. In terms of preparing for an overnight stay, check with admissions for the details. A number of colleges organize overnight visits for high school students.

Greer Bevel
University Counselor/IBDP History Teacher International School of Latvia

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Yes, overnight visits are important, especially if you're visiting one of your top college choices. Overnight visits give you perspective into what a college is really like---outside of how the college represents itself in admission brochures. Also, overnight visits are important for you can see whether or not the college you're visiting is a "suitcase college" (a school where everyone goes home for the weekend) or a college with a robust, tight-knit community filled with activities and opportunities for learning outside of the classroom. I recommend spending a Thursday evening on-campus. This way, you can get a brief but clear snapshot of the student community you could be immersing yourself into for the next four years. Enjoy your visit and keep your eyes and ears open. Have an "essential question list" in mind regarding academic and extracurricular life. Most of all, ask yourself: "Are students happy here?"

Dr Sharon
Associate Professor and Program Director of the International Business Bachelor Program Friends University

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

It is crucial that you find an institution that is a good fit with you. Colleges are not substitute goods, where one is pretty much like another. The culture of the place has a tremendous impact upon how much you enjoy your college years and how well you can learn in this environment. For that reason, spending time at the institution is very important. Remember that you are interviewing the institution just as much as the institution is interviewing you. If you arrive and don't like what you see, move on to your other choices. This decision is too important to take lightly and to not do research.

Nicole Porter
Admissions Manager Private University in AZ

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Make sure you get a schedule of what you will be doing while on campus. Also, ask for a list of items you needs such as sleeping bag, toiletries, etc. It is best to go to campus when there is an event to attend (sporting, student life, theatre event). Make sure you talk to different students about their experience. If you can talk to a professor and/or the dean in your area of interest and possibly attend a class, this will give you an HD image of the college you are considering.

Emily Goldman
Founder and Counselor Grey Guidance

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

If it is possible to visit one of the campuses on your list and spend the night, it is definitely a worthwhile way to get a true sense of the full student experience at that school. The campus tour and college "quick facts" can be helpful as a place to start, but spending more time as a potential student (e.g., in an overnight stay) can help give you a much better understanding both of the school itself as well as of college in general. In terms of preparing, I would suggest thinking about what you are looking for most in a college, and assessing these factors during your visit. You might do some research beforehand about the things you'd want to be sure and experience (e.g., an academic class, the cafeteria, a basketball game) and seeing if you can make these happen during your visit. If possible, I would also suggested trying to stay with a student that most closely aligns with who you are and what you are looking for in a school and in the college experience. This might be a student with a similar major interest, extracurricular interest, hometown, etc. With all of this said, overnight stays might not be doable for all students because of scheduling, financial situations, or something else, so I would put these experiences in the important category but not necessarily a "must do."

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

Are overnight stays important? How should I prepare for an overnight stay?

Overnight stays can be extremely important in getting a real sense of campus life and how students interact. However, if you can't stay overnight, don't worry, because it's certainly not essential. In addition, you should understand that you might not always be compatible with a student who agrees to host you, and I wouldn't make a decision about a school on the basis of your overnight host. In terms of preparing for a stay, make sure that you have emailed your host to get information about where and when to meet and make sure you get a cell phone number if possible. Be polite, be neat and don't expect too much attention from your host and you should be fine.