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Suitcase college or just a poor second impression?

K9LeaderK9Leader Registered User Posts: 296 Junior Member
edited September 2008 in The College of New Jersey
My D and I visited TCNJ in June (unfortunately, after the Spring semester was over and students were no longer on campus) and she and I were very impressed - right size (in the 4,000-8,000 enrollment range that she prefers), nice campus, informative, positive info session, knowledgeable tour guide, good variety of academic programs. She was invited to apply for a pre-application/admission scholarship (Board of Directors? Presidential?) and got a notice that she had been selected and was invited to attend a luncheon to find out about the award. My wife, who had not visited with us in June, went with her. It was a nice amount, especially considering this is before she has even applied for admission.

Aside from the awarding of the scholarships, this was an additional chance for TCNJ to sell itself to a group of high-achieving students. Unfortunately, my wife and D came away unimpressed and worried that TCNJ is a suitcase college. Apparently, whoever made the main information presentation was not nearly as informative or as convincing as the one in June. Also, in response to questions about the campus on the weekends, the responses left the impression that there may be something of a suitcase college problem. Although we are relatively close (about 1-1/2 hours away in Delaware), my D doesn't plan or want to come home every weekend, nor do we want her to. She (and we) want a true residential college with a full range of social and campus community opportunities all week long, not just Monday - Thursday. As a school with a large majority (94-95%) of its students from within the state of New Jersey, a deserted, sidewalks-rolled-up campus on weekends is not out of the realm of possibility so it is now a concern.

We are planning return visits on a weekend and on a weekday when classes are in session and she is still planning on applying, but the poor showing at the scholarship luncheon has moved it down her list from #1 or 2 to still on the list but in the second division.

We'd like to hear from current students, recent alums, and parents regarding this concern. Is TCNJ something of a suitcase college?

Thanks for any insights offered.

--K9Leader
Post edited by K9Leader on

Replies to: Suitcase college or just a poor second impression?

  • CM26CM26 Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    In response to your question, yes TCNJ can be somewhat of a "suitcase" school, I guess. I mean kids do go home when they feel like it as is the case at any school with kids living within 2 hours of campus. Some people I know go home every weekend, but that's their choice. Other kids don't go home except for holidays, breaks, etc. (when they have to go home). Some kids, like me, go home when every so often because they just like to see mom and dad every now and again. I transferred to TCNJ from a school 3 hours from home, and while applying to colleges back in high school I thought I really wanted to go away. Now realize I do like to go home maybe once a month or so to hang out with my brother and family. It's also good for bringing home the warm clothes when winter comes and taking the cold weather clothes back with me ;-)

    That being said, TCNJ offers an enormous amount of weekend entertainment, and it's usually free. They have movies playing every weekend in the freshman dorms, day trips offered to cities like NYC, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philly, as well as other activities around campus and they surrounding area. It's a great way to relax from the weekend workload, cause at TCNJ you will work hard. TCNJ offers more activities to students than my friend at Boston College gets at BC. His school, like many other schools, basically leaves it up to the students to find something to do (which usually ends up in them just drinking all weekend). TCNJ is the perfect size to offer numerous activities, because there are enough students interested in participating in them each weekend, but not so many students that the events are over crowded. Basically, they offer you more than enough activities to make every weekend (and even weekdays too) a load of fun. Of course there is weekend drinking, it's college so what did you expect, but there is so much else to do that it isn't the only thing people can do each weekend.

    Basically what it comes down to is what your D decides to do. If she stays each weekend, she'll be more than satisfied with the weekend activities. But she'll also have the option to go home. Almost everyone gets a little homesick. It's really not something I would call a concern about a school. TCNJ has amazing academic programs and is moving up the college rankings much like Villanova has done the past decade or so (and Villanova used to be a commuter school mind you). If she's really more concerned with how often everyone around her is going home I would recommend a school like BU, BC, NYU, Pitt, Penn State (not Villanova, too many PA/NJ/Del kids who might also go home). With kids coming in from all over the country I know that many of their students don't go home, sometimes not even for summer break. My BC friend doesn't even plan on seeing his family until winter break 2009 because of his internship up there.

    Hope that helped. I recommend rethinking that commuter school thing. It's really not bad at all at TCNJ, and not something that should be a major factor in your D's search. But if it is, I still wouldn't count out TCNJ.
  • K9LeaderK9Leader Registered User Posts: 296 Junior Member
    Thanks for the info. As I said, we were impressed on our first visit and she is planning to go back for a weekday visit with classes in session. It is still on the list and she will be applying so it is still in the ballgame.
  • happycollegemomhappycollegemom Registered User Posts: 1,170 Senior Member
    altho we don't have anyone who attended, TCNJ is a jewel still being discovered. (I'm an NJ resident.) not just another NJ state school, it has raised the bar on admissions, scholarships, etc. congrats on your d getting a scholarship offer to a place that's becoming increasingly competitive! TCNJ is probably somewhere between stay-on-campus and suitcase, the same way its whole image is undergoing rapid, positive transition. i'd keep it in the serious pool! especially when considering the caliber of academics balanced by inexpensive cost. good luck!
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