8 Tips for Multicultural Students Attending an Admitted Students Weekend
by Jocelyn Johnson, on Mar 13, 2015 11:22:00 AM
“Remember when you visited Vanderbilt for their multicultural students preview weekend?” my mom asked. She was doing some spring cleaning and found my college acceptance letters tucked in a corner in our study. “You called halfway through the weekend crying saying you wanted to come home,” she continued. We laughed and reminisced about where I applied and my results.
Although I had forgotten about that embarrassing moment, I do recall attending several multicultural student weekends: including Vanderbilt’s MOSAIC and The Essence of Emory. My experiences at those preview weekends played an important role in making my final college decision. Here are 8 tips for first-generation and diverse students to get the most of an admitted students weekend:
1) Get the real story from current students
For that weekend, forget everything you read about the school in the Big Book of Colleges or on College Confidential. You now have a blank slate of research to do, and current students are the experts. Have discussions with as many students as possible to get a comprehensive picture of the academics, student life, and school culture at the college or university you are visiting.
2) Ask the tough questions
Don’t just ask them what they like most about the school, who throws the best parties, and what’s the most popular fraternity or sorority on campus. Ask the tough questions, like what was their transition like freshman fall, what’s diversity really like at their school, or what has their experience been like as a Black, Latino, Asian, or first-generation college student at that school.
3) Take it all in… but with a grain of salt
4) Bring a journal and take notesWhat I remembered most about Vanderbilt’s preview weekend was an AMAZING step show hosted by local celebrities and featuring performances by NPHC fraternities and sororities. It was followed by an after party with a great DJ, strolling, and dancing. I was in awe. When I returned to my room I asked my host, “is every weekend like this?” She said no, of course, and that several of the students participating were from other schools in the area. That being said, don’t be fooled by ostentatious programming and don’t choose a school based on a step competition or a concert. Be sure to get the real scoop from students (see tips 1 and 2).
At the end of each day, take 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on the day’s events and write down your reflections in a notebook, journal, or on your tablet or phone. Capture the details from the conversations you had and your thoughts while walking around campus. Describe how the school feels to you. List the things you did or did not like. This simple 5 minute exercise will give you something concrete to reflect on after the weekend is over, and will come in handy when it’s time to make your decision.
5) Don’t freak out if you have a bad or unfriendly host
Normally during preview weekends, you are assigned to an undergraduate student who will be your “host.” You may have a great host, or you may have a host who’s nice but super busy and doesn’t have any time for you that weekend. Or, worse yet, you may have a terrible host and the next thing you know you’re sleeping on top of a pile of dirty clothes in a room that smells like sweaty socks. Don’t have a good host? Find someone who does, be friends, and hang out with theirs! Remember, if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, speak with the admissions office.
6) Attend a class
Visiting a class while you are on campus gives you a better sense of the school’s academic culture and expectations. Some schools will have a list of classes that students can attend, but if the school you are visiting doesn’t, check with your host to see if you could visit one of their classes. If it’s a small class or seminar, email the professor to see if it’s okay.
7) Visit the admission and/or financial aid office
Sometime during the weekend, stop by the admission office and introduce yourself to the staff there. They’ve spent the past 4 months reviewing applications and it will be nice to put some faces to the names and profiles they’ve gotten to know. If you have questions about your merit or financial aid package, stop by the financial aid office and meet your financial aid counselor.
8) Be smart: don’t jeopardize your admission
You’re on a college campus, a college that you’ve been admitted to, and there’s no parent supervision for the entire weekend... You may be thinking: this is an ideal time to “turn up!” Wrong. Every year students get their admission decisions revoked due to underage drinking, getting caught with illegal substances, or breaking a university’s code of conduct during their admitted students preview weekend. Make smart decisions, and “turn down” to stay admitted.
Multicultural preview weekends provide valuable insight and help you determine whether a college or university you’ve been admitted to is a good fit. So if you’re invited to an admitted students preview weekend, whether it’s specifically tailored to multicultural students or open to all admitted students, go to as many as you can! Some schools may even cover your travel expenses, depending on their financial aid policy. While you’re there, be sure to keep these eight tips in mind to make the most of your college visit!