What are some questions you should ask on an overnight stay?
An overnight stay can give a student some really good insights as to what college life is really all about. Hopefully the student hosting you is eager to do so but also forthright and honest and willing to share his/her experiences and opinions about life at the college. It is best if you can combine an overnight stay with an opportunity to attend a class in the area you hope to study. It is also good if your stay provides you with the opportunity to attend a college play, see an a cappella group, go to a sporting event or take part in a club outing. The more you can experience and interact with a variety of students and activities, the more you will take away from the overnight stay.
There are no questions off-limits when you visit overnight. You should ask as many students whatever you feel you need to know before making a final decision whether to apply or whether to accept an offer. You may ask how receptive professors are; what kinds of supports are available to help you be successful; what the social life is like; the political scene; how open and receptive the community is; town/gown relationships, etc. If there is a specific interest you have or a hobby that you want to pursue, you should ask about whether it is available, supported and accessible and if you can meet others who share your interests to learn more.
The overnight stay provides a wonderful opportunity to "try on" the college for a weekend - see what dorm life is like; taste the offerings at the cafeteria; talk to students; visit the library; use the gym facilities; see and maybe chat with professors; explore the campus and its surroundings. The overnight helps a student see if this is a place he can call home for the next four years and if the community is one in which he can feel he can contribute to and grow from.
It is one thing to read about a college or hear about it from a friend or a counselor, and though such input is valuable, it is somehow two-dimensional. An overnight puts the college in high def or 3 D and allows you to personally experience it. I have had students come back after a visit knowing that YES, this is where I want to live. I can be happy here, sharing the wonderful biscuits served at breakfast, being "green," camping on weekends. I have found folks I can talk to whose opinions I respect, there are clubs I can join, and activities I can explore. I have had other students come back from an overnight with the realization that NO, my values and needs would not be served here, the community is too liberal or way too conservative; the Greek system is too strong or not strong enough; I just cannot feel comfortable in this community.
So think of the overnight as an opportunity to Test Drive the college - but also check your impressions with more than the person hosting you so that when you return and have to make up your mind, you feel confident that you have made the right decision.