03 Apr College Visit Overnight Stays: A Student Perspective
The following is a guest blog written by my daughter, a sophomore at Smith College. She is a Gold Key Guide and has hosted several prospective students over the past year.
As May 1st gets closer and closer, high school seniors near the deadline for deciding on their college of choice. It’s a tough decision to make, and there are a lot of ways to go about it. Many of you will take to the road or the skies in an effort to visit the various schools you’ve been accepted to. What will you do when you’re there? Some students will take the time to sit in on classes, others may take a second tour because the first one was a long time ago and some will seek out professors to discuss their area(s) of interest. But don’t forget: when your tour is over, you don’t have to leave! Its unbelievably important to arrange for overnight stays on campus.
Lets face it: you are not only making a decision about where you will be studying but also eating, sleeping and socializing for the next four years. Spending the night offers a glimpse of what undergraduate living might be like on each campus and allows students to compare the experiences from one college to another.
Plus, lets be honest, youre curious about the food. You’re curious about how people dress when they’re not giving a tour. You’re curious about whether it’s actually okay to sit in the front of the classroom.
The overnight setting provides an opportunity to talk to students in an unstructured environment away from tours and information sessions and yes, parents as well.
A stay on campus is also a great opportunity for students to get a feel for dorm life. The idea of living in a coed dorm might sound nice in theory, but try it out. Find out if thats really what you want. At one school you might stay in a single, at another in a suite. Which do you like better? Theres no way to know until you experience it.
An overnight stay also gives prospective students a chance to watch how current students mingle with one another outside of the classroom. The facade of the tour is dropped, and it doesn’t matter if you’re interacting or just listening. You’ll get a feel for the environment. You’ll know whether you see yourself fitting in and finding friends there or if you don’t.
Spending time in the dorm will also give you time to reflect about everything you’ve seen and experienced while still in the middle of it. And after talking with students in the dorm or at a campus function, you might find that there are places you wish to visit or things that you’d like to do the next day, which you might not have thought of otherwise. Then when the overnight is completed you might leave and return home for that final month of high school, realizing that you’ve found the right place, and you really didn’t want to leave.