Featured Image

What Are Overnight Campus Visits Really Like?

If you want to go beyond a traditional college tour, why not try out an overnight campus visit? Here's what you need to know before staying overnight on campus.

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 to 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: Your College Search Secret Weapon

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!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

campus visits college admission college search college tours college visits overnight visits

About Eric R. Young, MEd

Eric R. Young is the Director of Admission at the University of Mount Union and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program for Higher Education Administration. 


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress gave me options of schools with my major and from there I was able to pick what was most important to me in a school. Everything was so organized that I could see all the information I needed.

Samantha Fils-Aime

Samantha Fils-Aime

High School Class of 2019

I love that CollegeXpress has helped me find some scholarships to apply for but also helped me succeed in school with lots of tips. I also really like how they consistently email me about webinars that teach me a lot of things from the comfort of my home!



High School Class of 2021

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with Bold.org for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.



High School Class of 2023

Being a sophomore in high school, I never really worried about college. I thought it wasn't important to worry about until senior year. Through this program opportunity I came across, I realized how important it is to start looking at colleges early and start planning ahead. CollegeXpress has opened my eyes to what colleges require, what colleges are near me, and what they offer. The daily emails I get from CollegeXpress really help me look at the different options I have and what colleges I fit into. Without this website, I would not be taking the time out of my day to worry about what my future will be nor what opportunities I have. I could not be more grateful for such an amazing and useful website. It's thanks to CollegeXpress that not only me but my family now know how much potential I have in to getting into these colleges/universities that we thought were out of my reach.

College Matches