What To Expect During Overnight Campus Visits

What’s An Overnight Campus Visit?

An overnight campus visit is when a high school student spends the night with a current student at a particular college that they’re interested in possibly attending.

While it’s fairly common for students to schedule daytime tours at the colleges they’re interested in, overnight campus visits are another way for students to gather more in-depth information about a respective college.

Why Overnight Campus Visits Are Important

Overnight campus visits essentially allow a high school student to be a college student for a day – you’ll get to live in the dorms, eat cafeteria food, attend classes, and see what type of activities college students participate in during their free time.

Having a closer look into the life of a college student can significantly impact your impressions of a particular school and assist you in selecting your home for the next 4 years.  You’ll be able to explore the campus, listen to what current students talk about to gauge their opinion of the school, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask whatever questions you have and feel comfortable that you’re getting honest answers!

You should definitely schedule an overnight campus visit if you plan to submit an early decision application to a particular college.  This experience can help you feel more relaxed about making a final decision and ultimately committing to one school.

What Should You Bring With You?

You should remember to bring a sleeping bag and pillow with you to your overnight campus visit.  Your host might have arranged better accommodations (i.e. air mattress or futon), but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You should also bring PJ’s, another set of clothes for the next day, and of course any toiletries or personal items that you might need.  Also, don’t forget to bring a towel, some flip flops, and possibly a bath robe!  Your host may live in a dorm that has community bathrooms, so you want to make sure you’re prepared for that.

What Should I Expect When I Get There?

This will all depend on the host.  He or she might take you to the cafeteria to have dinner, take you on a tour of the campus, or ask you what you have an interest in doing.  If you have questions or are interested in a particular activity, now is your time to speak up!  Don’t be shy…remember, selecting a college is a huge decision so you want to do everything you can to make the best decision for you.

How Can I Schedule An Overnight Visit?

Each colleges overnight visit program varies, so you should contact the admissions office directly for specific details.  You should plan to call at least 2 weeks in advance to give the school enough time to make the appropriate arrangements.  Also, if you are looking for your host to be involved in specific activities or be pursuing a specific major, be sure to let the admissions office know about these preferences ahead of time.  I’m sure they’ll do their best to accommodate your wishes.

Other Useful Tips

  • Bring a book or something else to keep you busy just in case you have some down time.  Your host may have some homework or a test to study for that may keep him or her busy for some time during your visit.
  • Remember to keep an open mind and evaluate the university as a whole.  Even if your personality or interests are completely different from your hosts’, try to observe what’s going on outside of your host’s college life experience to see if this college would be a good fit for you.
  • Going on overnight campus visits can be quite time consuming, so you should wait until you have your list of colleges narrowed down to a few schools before you start to schedule these overnight visits.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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