What To Expect When You’re Overnighting
As the campus visit coordinator, I have the privilege of customizing schedules for students who want an insider’s look at student life here at Kenyon. Overnights are an excellent opportunity for prospective students, and I highly encourage anyone looking at colleges to consider doing one. Staying on campus beyond the tour and information session allows you to meet more students and faculty, and you’ll have more time to consider the question: “Will I be happy here for four years?” You can go outside of your comfort zone by staying with a stranger in the dorm (excellent preparation for meeting your first-year roommate), creating and then possibly burning the world’s greatest panini in the dining hall, and improvising when you realize you left your toothbrush at home. That said, for those of you about to participate in your first overnight visit, here are a few tips that will hopefully make your stay go a lot smoother.
1. Make the most of your host. You and your host may not have a lot in common, but they still have a lot to offer you. Hopefully, they will be friendly, kind and accommodating, but much like you will be during your first year, they will be busy. Try to tag along with them to any meetings or events they’re attending, even if it’s unlikely that you’ll be joining the Bacon Club when you enroll at college. The biggest benefit of staying overnight is that you’ll get to meet other students, so try to strike up a conversation with everyone you meet. Even if you and your host aren’t likely to become BFFs, you may end up having an amazing discussion about feminism in Bob’s Burgers with your host’s boyfriend’s lacrosse teammate.
2. Try out a class (or two, or three). Classes are not one-size-fits-all. Most of the classes open to prospective students are at the 100- or 200-level, so don’t panic if some of the material sounds familiar. If you can, take the time to talk to professors and see what their upper-level classes are like, or tell them about your own research interests. And if you have time, try to visit more than one class — you may be surprised by how much you like that econ or philosophy class, even if you’re more of a drama buff.
3. Ask lots of questions. Chances are, just a year or two ago, your host was in your exact situation. Ask them what drew them to their college, and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions — but remember, this is one person’s opinion. Plenty of our hosts stay in touch with the “prospies” they meet, so you could be making a new friend, or at least a great Facebook friend.
4. Give the college a head’s up that you’re coming. The more notice we have, the more time we can spend with your itinerary, and the better your visit is likely to be. Don’t expect to have the red carpet rolled out if you call the school asking for an overnight when you’re 30 minutes away. (Pro tip: Don’t do this at all.)
5. Make a pro and con list. As difficult as it is, when you get home, try to take stock of all of the things you liked and didn’t like about the school. Maybe they were out of avocados at the salad bar, but what did you think of your tour guide? The professors you met? The class you attended? Would you be happy here for four years? It’s a lot to think about, but you have plenty of time to make up your mind. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!