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Students attending "suitcase colleges"

tom1944tom1944 Posts: 5,340Registered User Senior Member
edited November 2007 in Parents Forum
Anyone attending a school that is considered a suitcase college- the majority of students go home on weekends- if so could you give me a feel of the school for those that stay on most weekends. Is there a critical mass of students needed for a decent social atmosphere?
My D applied to mostly public schools both in state and oos- most of the schools would be considered suitcase schools. She has applied to one very small private 1500 students which is a very residential school. The public schools range in size from 3500 to 20,000 so the public schools will most likely have more students around on the weekend but a much smaller % of the total student body overall.
She will try to visit and attend Thursday classes -overnight on Thursday and see what happens on Fridays when she decides which schools to consider.

I would appreciate if you could share your experience at this type of school.
Post edited by tom1944 on
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Replies to: Students attending "suitcase colleges"

  • doubleplaydoubleplay Posts: 3,550Registered User Senior Member
    I went to a state U (UNC CH) and my kids go to a different state U (UF); in both places, lots of kids go home for the weekend. However, with anywhere from 25K to 50K students, that still leaves a thriving weekend social scene. Hence the downtown avenue teeming with bars, clubs, restaurants; and the private parties, fraternity socials, concerts, plays, etc. And of course, on football weekends, you won't have kids leaving campus, if they value their social lives, at all. You can lose an awful lot of kids on the weekend and still not miss a beat when there are 50K students attending a university.
  • tom1944tom1944 Posts: 5,340Registered User Senior Member
    doubleplay- I agree with the flagship State U but how about the smaller secondary locations- UNC-Asheville, Wilmington or Greensboro. Or in Virginia not UVA or VaTech but Mary Washington or George Mason.
  • patsmompatsmom Posts: 3,092Registered User Senior Member
    When I attended Mary Washington in the Dark Ages, it was definitely a suitcase school. Since the majority of students were from VA, especially Richmond or northern VA, they often made the short trip home for weekends. I've heard that it's still true to some extent, but the percentage of VA students is smaller now than it was in 1970 so it's probably not quite as big of a problem.

    Actually, I don't remember even considering it a problem back then. I would sometimes go home with one of my NoVA friends for the weekend and it was a nice change of scenery for me to get away, since I was an OOS student and never went home except at Christmas and Spring Break. And there were activities on campus on weekends for those of us who remained there - it certainly wasn't dead!
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 25,159Registered User Senior Member
    It really depends on the school. As others have mentioned, if there is a critical mass of students sticking around, it does not much matter if a number go home for the weekend. Also the support from the university is important. Some universities practically shut down on weekends. Can't get much food on campus, few activities planned if any, it's like a ghost town. Others are better. It's not necessarily a suitcase college that has an empty campus either. Some schools, city schools, in particular, have found that the city life has more allure than school planned activities. Because of that, they shut down a lot of their facilities on weekends. We noticed that on a campus tour at one such school. Only one eating spot was open and hardly a sole around. Everyone eats out, but not necessarily by choice since there just aren't alternatives on campus, and the campus doesn't plan much on the weekends. There are schools that simply do more for student life and entertainment than others regardless whether they are a "suitcase" school or not.

    Also there are schools where students cycle in and out due to work programs or other things and for someone who wants a stable four years with a certain core of kids on campus is not going to get this at such schools. Also schools that do not have many dorms on campus--they may even provide housing but it is scattered and mostly apartment type, are not going to have the campus life as those with dorms and housing all on campus ground and close together. If a solid campus life is important, you have to check these things out carefully.
  • mkm56mkm56 Posts: 3,062Registered User Senior Member
    tom1944, I don't know about UNCA, but most kids I know who are at Wilmington do not leave on weekends (maybe because we are from western NC). I've heard mixed responses on this issue regarding UNCG--some kids loved it there, had plenty on the weekends and rarely came home--others found the weekends lacking (think it had much to do with no football). In the UNC system, the one I always hear about being so much a suitcase school is UNCC.
  • MotherdearMotherdear Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
    Our local hs sends many kids to Mary Washington each year as it is an in-state public. Most of the ones we know have transferred to other schools after a year because the weekend life was lacking. Some made parallel transfers to JMU and Tech, others transferred to UVa and W&M.
  • hudsonvalley51hudsonvalley51 Posts: 2,396Registered User Senior Member
    A surprisingly large percentage of parents of kids in my D's high school prefer that their children attend "suitcase schools." According to my D some parents have even "bribed" their kids with promises of a car or other goods if they agree to apply only to schools within an hour of home. Quite a few of her friends have taken their parents up on their offer; one even negotiated both a car and an off-campus apartment to share with her graduating friends who will be attending college locally or joining the work force. I guess this is another manifestation of the Millenial Generation, which is noted for the close bonds between child and parent?
  • cmbmomcmbmom Posts: 718Registered User Member
    My daughter attends a small suitcase school, though I did not know it was one when she went, since 90% live on campus. She comes home almost every weekend and says most of the younger students do leave, even those from PA and NJ. The upperclassmen, who live in apts, seem to stay more often on the weekends. I see the activities the college has on the weekends and there is PLENTY to do for the kids who stay. There are of course students from all over the country, and the athletes, who stay at school every weekend.
  • marny1marny1 Posts: 2,235Registered User Senior Member
    tom- we were in a similar situation with d #2. We're NYS- but d applied to OOS schools like George Mason-Temple-Towson and a few others.
    George Mason seemed promising- but when we went a second time to check it out, my d thought the campus seemed a little too quiet on the week-end.
    tHOUGH THERE WERE STILL KIDS AROUND (oops!) and Friday nite activities, she said that she did not want to form friendships based on which kids stayed on campus on week-ends.
    My kid is not the most adventurous- so as she had reservations about going to an OOS public where a good chunk of kids go home on the week-ends, I did not interfer with her decision.

    If your d thinks she may get involved in sorority life or a sport team that in itself may help her form a group of friends who will be around to hang out with on week-ends.

    My d decided to go to a SUNY (which surprised the heck out of me- as she always said she'd steer clear of upstate NY). My d is now a very happy sophomore at SUNY Cortland.

    My advice- let your kid decide based on her gut feelings. The week-end visit is a good idea. Actually that is what put George Mason out of contention.

    FYI- most SUNY campuses (except Stony brook) do not appear to be commuter schools. Maybe our NY kids want to steer clear of their parents!!
  • cmbmomcmbmom Posts: 718Registered User Member
    I was at George Mason a few weekends ago and saw many more kids than I expected to walking around the campus. I thought their campus was just lovely.
  • marny1marny1 Posts: 2,235Registered User Senior Member
    That is good to hear cmb- I think GMU may be getting more OOS kids- I do see more GMU bumperstickers in our area. I was a bit disappointed my kid didn't consider it a bit more.
    very nice campus- close to dc-- reasonable tuition!!

    but she is happy at Cortland. so things really do work out as they should!!
  • tom1944tom1944 Posts: 5,340Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks everyone- I appreciate the suggestions especially post 5 from cptofthehouse. Since we are in NJ every school (except Princeton) is a suitcase school. My new research project is to determine what the schools offer on weekends.
  • cmbmomcmbmom Posts: 718Registered User Member
    When you are researching make sure you can see the entire activities calendar. I know for our daughter's school not everything is posted on the webpages open to outsiders, only selected events. And check the recreational sports area also. Lots of day trip activities, open to everyone not just club members, are only posted there.
  • PackMomPackMom Posts: 7,463Registered User Senior Member
    My S travels to UNC-W fairly frequently to visit friends there. They all lived in the dorms for a year (or 2) but have now moved off campus. They never come home.
    Everybody loves Wilmington.

    You didn't ask about ECU but in my experience it is one of those where plenty go home but plenty stay around too. When I attended I was only one hour from home but stayed at sch. most weekends because there was more to do there than in my tiny hometown. My S plans to attend ECU next fall and he will def. not be coming home often. The drive is too long.

    We are not all that far from Asheville but very few from our h.s. attend UNCA, not sure why. The big state u's with big time sports seem to be more of a draw here (with the exception of UNCW which is hugely popular). Downtown Asheville is really a cool place. I would think college students would love it.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 25,159Registered User Senior Member
    The other thing that is useful when you visit a college on weekends is what activities are happening and what kind of kids do stick around. If the Greek scene comes alive then, and your student is not into that, it is not going to be helpful. If football games consume the weekend, and it is not of interest to your student, again, it may not be what she wants.
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