You can browse through as many brochures as you want, but you won't know how you feel about a university until you set foot on its campus. As the decision deadline gets closer, many pre-collegiettes begin to realize the value of pre-frosh weekends. Wait, a pre-what weekend?
Before pre-collegiettes have to decide on a college by the May 1st deadline, several schools plan weekends for prospective students to see what the campus is like. Whether you stay for the daytime activities or spend the night in a collegiette's dorm, this weekend is a great way to decide if a school is really for you. But before you imagine your experience as a sneak peek into your crazy collegiette future, there are some rules you need to follow. As always, we're here to give you the lowdown on what not to do during pre-frosh weekend.
1. Don’t be closed-minded
You haven’t even walked across the quad yet and it started raining, you accidentally stepped in a huge puddle and some sorority girl almost hit you with her bike. Time to turn around and go home? Absolutely not. “No college experience is perfect, and neither are pre-frosh weekends,” says Julie Qiu from Yale University. Though you may think a series of unfortunate pre-collegiette events is a sign from above, it’s important to give the university in question a chance. Instead of criticizing every little mishap, try to think of the bigger picture. Your not-so-glamorous entrance will make a great story if you actually decide to go to that school.
2. Don’t act like a “know-it-all”
Those informational meeting your parents forced you to attend definitely came in handy: you now know all about the school’s student body, study abroad programs and the very impressive gym facilities. While we give you major kudos for doing your research, there’s still so much more to learn. “Pre-frosh weekends exist so you can see what it’s like to go to that school,” says Julie. “Pamphlets can’t do that.” Instead of fixating on what you do know about the school, take this time to ask questions about things you don’t know. You know the library has five floors (impressive), but you have no idea where else you can study—after all, the library will be very crowded come midterms and finals! If you’re staying with a college student overnight, break the ice by asking her some of these questions. Just don’t forget to brainstorm questions before pre-frosh weekend—coming up with good ones on the spot can be pretty tricky.
3. Don't be shy
Since you're merely visiting this prospective school, you don't have to unleash your inner social butterfly, right? Wrong, so wrong. Though you probably won't become best friends with the other prospective students—and if you do, you can thank us for encouraging you to be outgoing—pre-frosh weekend is great practice for when you actually become a collegiette. Don't forget to talk to actual college students as well. Not only is it a great way to get to know the university (and its student body), but it’s also another opportunity to mingle. If you're in need of a go-to conversation starter, why not talk to your new friends about school? Ask your fellow pre-collegiettes about what they want to major in or which other schools they're deciding between. As for those actual students, ask them about their classes or what the campus culture is like. By refining your small talk now, you'll be befriending people left and right in the fall.
4. Don’t be scared of college students
Speaking of college students, you’re kind of intimidated by them. They know the lingo, can navigate around campus with ease and they just seem so mature. Though you may want to run in the other direction when you see a swarm of collegiettes on campus, don’t. Believe it or not, college students are just like you. “Every college student was once a freshman,” says Catherine Sourbis from Tufts University. “Don’t think of them as being cooler.” Instead of freezing up when you see a college student, treat him or her as your equal. Since most collegiettes love their school, and therefore want you to attend, chances are that they will be very friendly. Compliment a collegiette on her super cute bag or give a collegent a flirty smile. You’ll be mingling with a ton of upperclassmen once you’re a freshman, so why not start now?
5. Don’t be glued to your phone
Like anyone from this generation, you’re a little obsessed with your phone. How could you not when you can text, tweet, pin, Facebook stalk and Instagram? As painful as it sounds, put your phone away this weekend. Of course you can send the occasional text or snap an Instagram-worthy picture; however, you won’t be getting the most out of your pre-frosh weekend if you’re too busy catching up on the latest gossip from home. You’ll probably be the token anti-social girl of pre-frosh weekend (which breaks Rule 3), plus you may not hear important information about the school. If you keep your phone use to a minimum, you’ll have tons to tell your friends face-to-face once you’re home.
6. Don’t be afraid to break away from the schedule
Between the back-to-back panel discussions and the strictly planned lunches, pre-frosh weekend may be a little overwhelming. Though it’s important to attend all the planned lectures—after all, they’re scheduled for a reason—we’re going to let you in on a little secret: college tends to be spontaneous. “Everyone has their go-to spots on campus, so it’s important to see if you can imagine yourself having those types of places at the school you’re visiting,” says Julie. So why not stop in that cute coffee shop or check out the student center in between activities? Not only will you get that much-needed caffeine boost, it’s also an opportunity to see if you could be more than a visitor.
7. Don't turn your stay into a party weekend
As much as you're dying to do your first keg stand, we suggest you don't model your pre-frosh weekend after Spring Breakers. Not only are you underaged, which could get your host in a lot of trouble, choosing a school is more important than which one has the best jungle juice. Not to mention you may miss out on some crucial pre-frosh activities. “I was dying to see what NYC nightlife was like during my pre-frosh weekend at NYU, but it turned out to be a big mistake,” says one collegiette. “Clubbing with my best friend who happened to be in the city that weekend was a blast, but we stayed out so late I slept through my alarm and was late meeting my future roommate the next morning. It definitely was not the right way to start off our relationship.”
Instead, explore the campus and its surroundings. You may think that collegiettes go out every night, but they need some low-key nights, too! Checking out what else the area has to offer will give you a better idea of if you could spend the next four years there. But if you’re staying with a host and she drags you out to a frat party, remember that you can have fun without going crazy. We promise you that there will be a ton of other times to embrace college’s exciting nightlife (like when you’re legal).
8. Don’t skip the dining hall food
Unfortunately, most colleges don’t boast “state of the art” dining halls. We’re sure you’ll be tempted to eat at a restaurant for the rest of the weekend, but give the cafeteria a chance! “Even though dining hall food has a bad reputation, it’s important to know what you’ll be eating for the next four years,” says Catherine. Collegiettes eat at the dining hall all the time, and it’s not as bad as you’d think. You don’t have to be gutsy and try the mystery meat (we don’t think most collegiettes even do that), but you can easily make salad or grab a slice of pizza. By trying dining hall food now, you’ll know exactly what to expect when you’re finally a collegiette.
9. Don’t force the school to be a perfect fit
The school has a wonderful academic reputation and a beautiful campus, but you’re not completely sold on it. “Perhaps I’ll like it after a semester,” you think to yourself. Just because a school sounds great on paper doesn’t mean it the school for you. While you shouldn’t let little things deter you from attending a school (see Rule 1), you have to be honest with yourself. There’s a lot of things to consider when choosing a school -- cost, major and distance from home, just to name a few -- but your happiness is a priority. Not loving a prospective school is a bummer; however, another college on your “accepted schools” list is sure to be a better fit.
We have one very important do for you: do have fun! Though you’re visiting a prospective school to ultimately make a decision, don’t forget to enjoy your weekend, too. Applying to college was stressful enough, so there’s no reason to make the rest of this process even more daunting. Plus, you won’t know if a school is the right fit if you don’t relax and have a good time. By following our don’ts (and one do), you’ll be getting the most of out your pre-frosh weekend.