A decision you can sleep on
On Thursday, the New York Times ran an article describing a growing trend among senior citizens: sleep overs! After spending the daytime acquainting themselves with the facilities, retirement communities are offering prospective senior residents the opportunity to take in evening social events and the opportunity to spend the night. For senior citizens, this is a great way to gauge social life and other nuances associated with retirement homes that one could not glean from a brochure. Retirement communities are not the only institutions to offer this opportunity. Colleges do too! I dedicate this post to one of the great (and relatively uncelebrated) pre-college traditions: prospective student overnight visits!
Why you should do it:
College overnight visits offer prospective students (or more cutely known as, prospies) an unfiltered, in-your-face opportunity to experience collegiate social life in a way that guidebooks or facebook photos could never showcase. For example, such visits give prospies an insider view on what it means to be a resident in a college dormitory. That’s important, right? Absolutely! During one overnight visit at a UC school, I learned immediately that most students do not party on campus and prefer the college town atmosphere in the neighboring community. Additionally, overnight visits offer prospies an invaluable opportunity to get a feel for campus life.
Want to learn about the hidden menu options at some of the on-campus eateries? Clueless regarding prime study locations on campus once the library turns into a noisy, packed theatre house during finals time? What percentage of students cook for themselves? Does the school invite prominent leaders for seminars and discussions? Are there students who would enjoy discussing Plato’s Symposium at a party rather than getting plastered like everyone else? Going on an overnight visit provides you with VIP access to all the places where you could be hanging out for the next four years, and gives you the chance to spend time chatting with students who experience the college life now.
How to sign up:
Signing up for an overnight opportunity is easy. Once accepted (Cha-Ching!!!! Woo-hoo!), call up the school’s admission office and inquire about the available dates for overnight visits. Sign up early, as these nights tend to fill up quickly, especially the month before admitted individuals must sign their acceptance letters. Note: some colleges offer overnight visits even before admission letters come out. If you are seriously thinking about a school, spending a night will definitely provide you more information, helping you make a more informed decision about applying to or attending a certain school.
What to expect:
The office of admissions matches prospies with first-year students who have similar interests. Prospies spend much of the daytime shadowing first-year students as they attend classes, eat, study, attend club meetings, and perform other activities that are part of the host’s schedule for that day. If you visit on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, do not expect the host to take you to a crazy shin dig as these kinds of events tend to take place on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights (Also don’t expect anything as extravagant as you will see here and don’t assume that your host will take you to a raging college party if you visit on one of those nights).
How to prepare yourself:
Come in with an open mind!!! If you can, find out about your host’s schedule in advance. Keep in mind that your host is a student, and could be busy on that particular day. Don’t be scared if he or she seems pre-occupied – the host is happy to have you! Be flexible and realistic. This eliminates false expectations, making for a more memorable and enjoyable overnight visit.
Remember, you and your host don’t have to become BFFs overnight. Of course, you would hope that you and your host do get along (you might be spending the next four years of your life at that school – but no sweat off you’re your back if you don’t click with everyone you meet). Don’t forget the purpose of the visit: you are here to see the campus, check out the academic and social scenes, and at the right time, ask the big question: Can I see myself here?
And the golden tip for a successful overnight visit: make sure to bring your host a gift to boost your chances of getting invited back or having a quasi friend on the first day of school. Every college student loves good box of chocolate.
Have any cool college overnight visit stories? Feeling inspired to share them? Do so in the comment section below!