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.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

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

If you are given the option of spending the night on campus at a school to which you will apply or to which you have already applied, you should absolutely take advantage of the opportunity. By spending the night on campus, and then subsequently attending classes, you will get a feel for what it is like to be a student, not just a visitor. Though your overnight host may be a student employee that is paid by the Admission Office, the majority of the students in their dormitory will not be...thus you will be able to get a true feel for what a night is like on campus. You should keep in mind that an overnight stay is not just to have fun so don't be surprised if your host needs to spend some time doing homework while you are there. You should bring along your own school work or a book to read, in case this happens. Another word of caution is that you and your host might be very different from one another, and you should keep in mind that they are just one person on campus. Even if your host wants to watch "Jeopardy" and you'd prefer "Project Runway", don't assume that you'd be the odd student out on campus...there are bound to be other Tim Gunn fans out there!

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.

Emily Bloom

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

Some schools dont offer students a chance to stay over until they have been accepted, but if you are interested in one that does allow prospies to stay over, you should! It is the best way to see what life at a particular school is really like. To plan, you should check the schedule online to see what events might be taking place. Ask the admissions office for a schedule of classes you can sit in on, other events like concerts and performances that might be taking place and you might even be provided a few meal tickets to eat in the cafeteria. If there is a particular professor whose class was very interesting to you, send an email letting him or her know how much you enjoyed it. Might help down the road!

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?"

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

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

Overnight stays are AWESOME. if you can do one during the fall of your senior year that is great. If you know someone at the college, try to stay with him or her. Sophomores and juniors are ideal. If you don't know someone, go through the admissions office. Check out the dorms, go to classes, eat in the cafeteria. Be a real student. You can even meet with professors and coaches. You can write about your visit in college specific essays. Overnight visits are also key for making a decision. If you can't decide where to attend, doing an overnight in the spring of senior is essential in helping make a college come alive for you!!!

Ronald Harris

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

An overnight visit is a great way to see both the academic and social sides of campus. This overnight stay will give you a much better idea as to whether or not you would be able to achieve your goals and academically prosper at that particular institution. To arrange an over-night stay, contact the Admissions Office and make prior arrangements. An overnight stay will give you a much better feel for the entire college atmosphere.