Veronica With Four Eyes

My Favorite Tips For College Sibling Weekend

My university hosts a “kids and sibs” college sibling weekend every spring that allows younger family members to spend a weekend at the college doing all sorts of fun “college life” activities like going to the dining hall, watching movies, spending the night in the dorms, and participating in other fun activities specifically for the weekend. I wasn’t sure if my brother would be interested in attending when I asked him about it during my freshman year, but he was super excited about it and participated in sibling weekend for three years- he didn’t participate during my fourth year because he became a student at the college he had been visiting all these years! Here are my favorite tips for college sibling weekend and making the most of having younger siblings and family members visit campus

Some background on my brother and I

My brother and I are about two and a half years apart, and he was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school when he started attending sibling weekend events. Since the college is a few hours from home, our mom drove up and stayed in a hotel during the weekend, and helped me with packing some stuff to bring home before the semester ended in a few weeks. Prior to sibling weekend, I registered him in the “teenage” age bracket, and talked to my suitemates about having my brother spend the night in my dorm room- they were fine with having him spend the night and use the shared bathroom space.

One year, I had a friend’s teenage sister spend the night in my dorm because she didn’t feel comfortable staying in her brother’s room- this was for another sibling event my brother did not attend. I had to sign a paper with the Resident Director for my building since people under eighteen are not usually allowed to spend the night in the dorm, and her mom also had to sign a paper as well. Exceptions to this policy are in place for sibling weekend events, though this is why students will need to register their siblings in advance.

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Visit a day early and meet with an advisor

Since my brother was in high school and exploring college options, I reached out to the advisor in the major he was interested in and asked if they would be able to meet with him the day before sibling weekend would begin. My brother was super excited about this, as the advisor was able to answer questions about the program, get permission for him to sit in on a lecture hall class, and talk to a few prospective students. This experience helped him solidify his top choice college and major, and he ultimately graduated from the same degree program he went to visit (Film and Video Studies).

It’s worth noting that I never took a single film class or knew anyone in the department- I just reached out to them with my university email. If he had been interested in my major, I would have asked one of my professors if I could have him observe one of my classes or talk to the department coordinator, but my brother is far more interested in film than he is in data analytics.

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Set up the air mattress before quiet hours

I received a noise complaint one year because I realized I forgot to set up the air mattress before quiet hours began, and the air pump makes a very loud vacuum-like noise. When my brother first arrived, we dropped off his backpack in my room and then inflated the bed so the sound wouldn’t be irritating later. I keep an air mattress in a bin under my bed in case a friend spends the night, needs to borrow a mattress, or if I need something to block my window- this isn’t something my brother had to bring from home.

At my college, siblings are not provided with a roll away bed or other options for sleeping, so they will need to bring a sleeping bag or air mattress with them if needed. The mattress I have is large enough to fit in the walkway of my dorm, and we propped it against the window when it wasn’t in use.

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Go to a performing arts event or a game

College sibling weekend has a lot of fun activities, but my brother was far more excited about going to a show at the performing arts center than going to the sibling weekend movie, especially since students can get free tickets to shows. My brother and I went to a few different shows at the performing arts center that featured different acts on national and international tours, with his favorite being a live improvised percussion show.

For students that are more interested in sports or school spirit, try going to a game or other athletic event. If my brother had been interested, I would have taken him to a basketball game and had him shadow me and some of my friends in the pep band, or requested free/discounted tickets to watch the game.

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Try something new in the dining hall

I love going to the dining hall, and when my brother would come up for sibling weekend, he received free dining hall swipes to check out the different food places on campus. Whenever he visited, I would find a way to try something new in the dining hall or encourage him to try a food he hadn’t tried before, since it was a low-pressure way to try out unfamiliar foods. For example, my brother tried a few new vegetable dishes while I tried out a different way to prepare rice bowls.

My brother doesn’t have food allergies, but if he did, I would have talked to the campus dietitian in advance about items that would be safe for him to eat with allergies, or things that he should avoid.

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Keep student IDs in a safe location

One year during college sibling weekend, my brother accidentally locked us both out of my room in apartment-style housing while we were getting ready to leave for an event at the performing arts center. He had no idea the door automatically locked, and I had no shoes on since I was still getting ready. We had to walk to the neighborhood desk to get a temporary key, then return the key to reactivate my student ID before the show. From that point on, I wore my student ID on a lanyard any time I was outside my bedroom, but at least my brother got to have the “college experience” of getting locked out of a dorm while heading to the bathroom.

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Take photos at campus landmarks

Having my brother come visit is a lot of fun, and I made him take some photos at various campus landmarks such as the campus statue, as well as some other academic buildings. I also encouraged him to find a fun place for us to take a selfie together while wearing college sweatshirts… though he ended up choosing to pose for said selfie in front of a dumpster next to my dorm. It’s still a fun picture though!

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Other tips for college sibling weekend

  • One year, we took the campus shuttle to the mall and a few other places so that he could become more familiar with the local area. This isn’t an official sibling weekend activity, but it was something he was interested in as a prospective student
  • Many college sibling weekend events are also open to cousins and younger family members/friends, but guardians might have to fill out additional paperwork
  • I already give tours for prospective students with vision loss, so I was comfortable giving a tour of campus to my brother- even though he is sighted, he still was interested in meeting some of the assistive technology staff. For a list of places I take students, check out Places Every Visually Impaired Student Should Visit On College Tours

For three years, my high school age brother came to visit for college sibling weekend. Here is how I made the most of his visit and convinced him to attend the same college!