How Important is it for kids to "do overnights in schools they are considering?"

<p>I have always thought I was fairly well prepared for this step in our kids college choice scenario. However, by April 1 we will have all acceptances, rejections, etc. in hand and one month-everyone knows the drill. Between the two kids,they applied to a total of 13 schools. Have visited 8 prior to applying.</p>

<p>I have heard various things from guidance counselors ( including the college counselor at our school) and parents about overnights and their importance in making college decisions. Both kids are very socially "tame" by today's standards and want a campus where they are not pressured to drink but can still be a part of the weekend parties. </p>

<p>Does attending the standard "accepted student days" really give a student a feel for what it is like to be a part of a particular school or do you need to spend the night in a dorm? I have heard that sometimes an overnight with a student who is very different from your own child can turn your child off from a school that in reality is the right fit.</p>

<p>Help oh CC parents of wisdom!</p>

<p>Here was a recent thread with a lot of good info on this subject.
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>You will probably get a lot of pro-overnight comments on this thread. However, I would not force a student to do an overnight, especially if the student is uncomfortable with strangers. For the shy or introverted student, an overnight can be much more uncomfortable than the first day or two on campus in the fall because the visitor may be expected to stay in the company of his or her host almost all the time. When the actual school year starts, people are not glued to their roommates in this way. Also, visiting students often have to sleep on the floor, which may not enhance the quality of the experience.</p>

<p>By the way, I am not sure that wanting "a campus where they are not pressured to drink but can still be a part of the weekend parties" is necessarily a realistic desire. What works for my "tame," nondrinking college freshman daughter is to avoid the party scene altogether but instead spend time on the weekends doing other things with friends who don't drink or who sometimes choose nondrinking activities over parties. The problem is that "party" often means "drink," and a nondrinker at a party may be bored or feel left out because drinking is the only entertainment. Choosing to do something else instead, such as going to a campus event or a movie, may lead to a more enjoyable evening.</p>

<p>My son felt it was very important for him--others will say it's not. Even with an incompatible host/bad experience, some people will have a gut reaction that the school is a fit anyway. We didn't go back to every school he was accepted to--he narrowed the field to 6 and even then it took 2 weeks because they were all over the country. One of those weeks was school break and the other we just pulled him out of school. With twins and some schools they've never seen, you'll probably have to be selective.</p>

<p>There is a wild party scene pretty much everywhere. The trick is to find the quieter partiers ASAP. My son did that by requesting sub-free, being honest on his housing app and joining an academic EC immediately.</p>

<p>It helped my daughter decide concerning the size of her school. She had been accepted at schools of 5000, 10000, 17,000 and 32,000 students. ( clearly she wasn't sure of her preference at the time of applications LOL ) She immediately nixed the largest school for other reasons, but liked all 3 remaining.
She had a friend who attended the school with 5000 students so it was easy for her to actually spend 2 different weekends there. While she loved the school and would have liked to join her friend there, she really found the size an issue after spending more time there. She felt very comfortable and said it would have been great for her freshman year, but felt that she would "outgrow" it in 4 years. She decided to attend the largest school based on the trips to the smaller school.</p>

<p>In this case it wasn't a matter of compatibility with the host student so it really did work for her.</p>

<p>I think it depends on the person. Some benefit, others can get by just looking at the materials. One thing that seems to be true is that it gets colored by the people you are with during the overnight. So a good school may not come off looking good because the overnight person was not compatible with your child and vice versa.</p>

<p>My d really needed her overnights, particularly at schools she hadn't visited before acceptance. She was able to look beyond an incompatible host and see the interactions of other students. Even the incompatible host gave her some insight into what the school was like.</p>

<p>I don't think that doing one "overnight" is going to give you enough of a representative look of the social life on campus to make it worth forcing a kid that doesn't want to do one to do it. If it's a dead heat between two schools maybe give it a shot, but I don't think that staying over one night is going to tell you all that much. That said, I never actually did one, I'm just thinking about how it would probably go.</p>

<p>I agree with Marian and hikids that it depends on the kid. My son did go to the accepted students' weekend at his top choice, but I think it did more harm than good in some ways. He's a creature of habit, so an overnight on a stranger's dorm floor wasn't a big thrill. Plus, he didn't have anything in common with his host. This also happened to be the weekend when it hit him that he would actually be leaving his home and all his good HS friends behind. :eek:</p>

<p>S, who loves his school, ended up there <em>despite</em> some of his experiences at accepted students' weekend. In hindsight, however, he still needed to go; just keep in mind that the perfect school doesn't necessarily equal a great accepted students' weekend experience.</p>

<p>To me overnight visits are not a great idea because they show one tiny piece of a huge puzzle of the school. This piece may be not typcal at all. But it gets overblown out of proportion in kid's mind.
A dinner including his favorite food? Great school!
An unattractive host? Bad school!
I just cannot be serious about this.
The only good thing about visiting after acceptance is getting info more focused on what has to be done for a smooth start in the fall. So we may vist schools in May. But not with the goal of "choosing".
On the other hand, my daughter did not apply to tiny LACs where you are more likely to really get an impression of a school as a whole on an overnight visit.</p>

<p>I think overnights work best for kids who are outgoing enough to meet other kids while they are with their host to get a good idea of the range of students at the school. My son did two overnights. One host basically just gave him the room, but didn't show him around at all. They had little in common. It was accepted student's weekend and there was plenty to do. The second overnight we originally thought he wasn't going to be able to do - it was also accepted students weekend. There weren't enough places for everyone who wanted to spend the night, so he had planned to spend the night at a hotel, but in the end CMU rounded up more student volunteers and kids agreed to have more kids spend the night than originally planned. My son stayed with three drama students and one comp sci student. He hardly saw the cs student - a pretty good indication of what comp sci might be like. The drama kids and the four high schoolers played video games to the wee hours of the morning. They seemed to be pretty candid about the school - and he was in the far away (but big) apts. which turned out to be similar to the housing he ended up in. </p>

<p>I felt they were helpful, but not critical. And in some ways most helpful because they forced my somewhat shy son to spend more time on campus than he might have otherwise.</p>

<p>Neither of my kids went to any, and each are thrilled with their choices; the schools are perfect fits.</p>

<p>I am not arguing against them; I'm sure they're great for some. They didn't want to bother and knew what they wanted, and were accurate in their impressions.</p>

<p>S only stayed overnight during prefrosh, but tried to spend some time attending classes at one school where we couldn't fit overnight into schedule. I think they could be helpful. My S hosted a HS friend who came next year, which I'm sure made it easier for that boy.</p>

<p>If you do an overnight, do an overnight at all--or as many as possible--considered schools. Mine did only one overnight and chose that school. It's always been a question mark--if they'd done an overnight at others, would they have chosen a different school? Not a level playing field unless they have the same things to consider....</p>

<p>If S did an overnighter at CMU and stayed with people who did video games all the time, He would have rejected the school. He had problems with his freshman roommates because they had their feeder school cliques and played video games. </p>

<p>IMO overnighters is a crap shoot. The student is going to base their opinion on who they room with, where they should be basing their selection on on the environs or overall quality of the school.</p>

<p>Besides, an overnighter for him, would be West Coast-East Coast trip. And to be fair to other schools, it would be end up as a 3 tripper.</p>

<p>I agree with rutgersmamma. Either overnight at all or none of those under serious consideration to give each school its fair chance to impress.
That being said, even the 'accepted student days' can be diametrically different.</p>

<p>DD was down to 2 but each presented very different accepted student days. One had a series of formal presentations and department 'open houses', no class observations. The other had a 'shadow a student', attend host's classes and lunch, and a formal presentation by the admissions office.</p>

<p>The first presentation seemed like a sales pitch; the second presentation gave my D a sense of 'imagine yourself here'.
I always wonder where she would be if the presentations were reversed.</p>

<p>I would say an overnight, per se, is less important than time spent on campus when students are there. Attending classes, talking to students and getting a feel for the place, I would think, would be helpful for most students. I would never have pushed my son to do overnights--he wanted them. Two of his finalist schools he had visited, but not while they were in session. The re-visits provided him with a much clearer picture.</p>

<p>As an incoming college student 25+ yrs ago, I still remember vividly the weekend I spent at Smith College & the overnight I spent at Allegheny College. Those experiences helped tremendously with my final decision to accept Smith's invitation to enroll. My daughter is an incoming freshman this year, and we were very disappointed most of the UCs do not offer an overnight here in CA. Although, UCRiverside does offer an overnight, and I'm hoping when she goes the 1st wk in April, it will help her decide if she wants to attend. Going to visit a school & doing the college tour(s) w/your parentals has limited value. There's something special about a peer's perspective. Good luck!</p>

<p>My D is 'allowed' two days off during the year to visit colleges. In order to visit the most schools and not take more than two days, we mostly visited on weekends, when the colleges weren't hosting overnights. I felt like maybe D was missing something by not spending more time, but I guess that remains to be seen. </p>

<p>I've been thinking about trying to get her to admitted student days at her top pick(s), but again, it's tough because she may miss school and would certainly miss athletic events. It's one of the things on my list of stuff to talk to her about when she stops in one place long enough for me to get a couple of sentences out.</p>

<p>My d also had a limit of two days to visit colleges. For the other visits, that didn't correspond with a vacation, I simply called her in sick.</p>