As you go through your college search, something you’ll hear often is the idea of finding the right “fit.” While finding your fit sounds like something everyone would want to do, many students question how to know when they’ve found the school that feels right to them. When students begin to ask these questions, I always talk about the importance of a campus visit, but I also encourage students to explore other ways to connect with a campus. One way students can connect with an institution beyond a traditional tour and information session is by going on an overnight visit.
The overnight visits basics
The structure of an overnight visit may vary depending on the schools you’re exploring. Some schools hold one or two overnight visit events per year, where prospective students come and participate in a variety of coordinated events. Other institutions, such as the University of Mount Union, allow prospective students to come for a more individualized overnight experience. For example, at Mount Union, we match each prospective student with a current student with similar interests who serves as the host for the visit. While on campus, high school students are assigned two courses to attend along with having meal tickets to eat in the dining hall. The overnight visit at Mount Union is contained to the campus; however, some schools will take overnight guests to explore the community as well. Regardless of how they’re set up, overnight campus visits are worth considering and can provide several benefits for students during their college search.
Related: 6 Secrets You Need to Know For a Great Campus Visit
Making connections beyond the admission office
People who work in the admission office are wonderful resources who can provide great information about their school, but they’re likely not the people you would interact with daily as a student. During an overnight visit, you’ll get to interact with students through campus activities or events, see what a typical class experience is like, and try meals at the dining facilities. This gives you a wider scope of the student body and campus life than a campus view day may offer.
Insight into life as a student
Another important aspect of an overnight visit is the opportunity to gain insight into the life of a college student. During your admission tour, you likely heard about the vibrant intramural program or the late-night snack opportunities at the dining hall. But on your overnight visit, you get to explore these events firsthand. Additionally, many schools have traditions or activities that an overnight visit will allow you to see; this will give you a more complete and unfiltered picture of the institutional culture.
Planning your overnight visit
Overall, overnight campus visits are a great opportunity to help you narrow the schools on your list of potential colleges to attend. Given the time commitment for overnight visits, my typical recommendation is to wait until your list is down to two or three schools before utilizing this visit to help make your final decision. Most overnight visit programs have a specific contact person who works to arrange your visit; this person may be an admission counselor or a visit coordinator. The contact person for the overnight program is a great resource for questions you have leading up to your visit.
Additionally, at most places that host students for overnight visit, students are asked to bring a pillow and any toiletry items they may need in an overnight bag. I also encourage students to bring different clothing options—you may end up at the gym playing basketball or at the school choir concert, so it’s good to have options.
Related: Campus Visits: The Best Resource to Use in Your College Search
Use your time on your overnight visit wisely; make observations about the school and ask all the questions that are important to you. This is your shot to get the full-blown experience of what life a that college would really be like. Don’t stress too much about making it perfect, set reasonable expectations for yourself, and have fun! College life is about more than just academics, so feeling at home within the atmosphere of a college is so important before deciding to attend.
Not sure what questions to ask on your visit? Well, we have a comprehensive list of campus visit questions right here!