A NY Times article mentions that according to a 2012 end-of-year survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, 39% of first year students at less selective campuses said they had gone home frequently. As the article indicates, this is a concern at regional campuses and is a trend and culture that many educators are trying to reverse.
College educators and administrators are concerned that too many students heading home each weekend will drain some of the civic life out of their campuses, and prevent students from experiencing the challenges and rewards of meeting new people. The trend is part of a vicious cycle: the more deserted a campus is on weekends, the less there is to do, thus more students are apt to leave.
Students may leave campus on the weekends for a variety of reasons. They go home to visit their family (do their laundry or eat a home-cooked meal), see their high school friends, visit their significant other, or leave for a job. Some students may just leave for a part of a weekend. They may go skiing if mountains are nearby or take a road trip with their friends to go see an away football game. Whatever the case may be, when you are looking at colleges it is a good thing to ask – is your school a “suitcase school?”
Many colleges anticipate this question and are quick to respond adamantly that no, there is plenty happening on campus to keep students engaged and wanting to stay involved and on campus. However, you might want to dig a little deeper and ask not only the admissions office but current students and alumni about their opinion on the suitcase school issue.
Here are some questions you could try:
– Do you, or your friends, leave campus on the weekend? If so, why?
– If you stay on campus do you feel that there is enough going on?
– Are students packing up to leave for the whole weekend? Just for the day and coming back?
– Do you ever feel like you might miss something by leaving campus on a weekend?
– Are a lot of students going home on the weekend? What if I am from far away and will not be able to get home easily?
– Does the campus empty out on the weekends?
– Is the college doing anything to try and keep students on campus on the weekends?
Good luck to you in your college search and decision making process!