My college, the University of Florida (goooooo Gators!) is considered a suitcase school. Now, before we get started– does anyone actually know what a suitcase school is? Because I for sure didn’t up until now, haha!
A suitcase school is a school that is predominantly residential (unlike commuter schools!). This means that a lot of the underclassmen live in dorms! But it also means that a significant amount of students go home for the weekend (or, at least, are able to go home!). As a state school, UF’s student body population is mostly Florida residents and a trip home is no big deal!
Unlike other suitcase schools, the campus isn’t “dead” on the weekends. Because it’s so large, you’re going to see students milling about. Yes, even on an early Saturday morning!
I absolutely love my campus and my college. It’s college decision season, so I figured this post was necessary. I’ve been meaning to write posts like this for a while now, actually. Paige recently made a post to help with choosing between colleges. Her first point was the importance of deciding how far away from home you’re willing to go, which made me think why I chose UF in the first place.
I wanted to get away from home.
I always felt like I’m stifled when I’m home. My parents are a tad bit overprotective; I felt like such a child even though I was rwady to explore the world.
At home, I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere and that my parents didn’t trust me to go out. I knew that this would definitely hinder my ability to branch out and find my way in the world. So, I made sure that a majority of the schools I applied to were fairly far from home. (I applied to over 15 schools that weren’t even in Florida!)
I didn’t want to have ask permission every time I wanted to get out. And I definitely didn’t want anyone breathing down my neck if I came home late. This isn’t to say that I have wild nights out when I’m in college– in fact, if I’m ever out late at night, I’m probably at the library!
I still love my family.
This is where going to a suitcase school turned out to be the best decision for me. I wanted to get away, but I also wanted the opportunity to go home if I wanted. Some of my friends and out of state– and I even have an international friend!– that don’t get to go home as often as then want.
I didn’t realize how important this was until my first semester. Like I said, almost all the schools I applied to were out of state!
Being at UF, I get the best of both worlds. I’m technically an independent person, but I’m still able to go home if I so chose because I’m only a bus ride away!
I didn’t want to be a commuter student.
Not to knock commuter students! Triasha made awesome posts about being a commuter student! Her posts made me realize that it’s not as bad as I thought.
At the time, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to have to drive to school all day, scrounge for s parking lot, then make a drive home! Also, I didn’t like the idea of being stuck on campus. If I had a large break in between classes, I wouldn’t be able to go home. Being in a dorm was so appealing back then!
(But my parents did try to convince me to go to a nearby school, haha! They definitely wanted me to stay at home and even offered to buy me my own car if I did. It didn’t sway me though!)
I wanted to experience dorm life.
As a high schooler, I heard a bunch of dorm horror stories. Believe me, I’ve heard them all. But I still wanted to experience it for myself. In my opinion, dorm life is one of the quintessential college experiences and I definitely did not want to miss out.
If I had gone to a nearby school, I definitely would have just stayed home instead. Sure, it would save a lot of money (dorms are so expensive!) but at the end of the day, it was more important to me to feel like I belonged on campus. I felt like I wouldn’t get the full freshman experience living at home. In my head, there would be so much of college that I would miss out on if I lived at home and commuted everyday.
It’s a good thing too, because I actually had an amazing dorm experience!
I wanted to gain responsibility.
If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you that I’m still the same goofy and irresponsible kid I was back in, what, eighth grade?
Moving away, you learn so much about being an adult that you may never get by living at home. There are so many life lessons you needs as an adult that you can learn by living on your own. I’m what you would call a sheltered child. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have half the experiences I’ve had.
Of course, you get the basic life tasks:
- doing your own laundry
- going grocery shopping for one
- cleaning your room
- getting along with roommates
You also get experience that you didn’t know you needed:
- how much is too many drinks
- the importance of sticking with your friends
- how to stay safe at a party
- curing a hangover (your friend’s, of course, because you’re responsible!)
- how to stay up all night and still be ready to go early in the morning
I thought it was the halfway point to being an adult.
To little high school me, I saw college as an in-between.
When you’re an adult you’re probably living on your own, away from your parents, and paying rent by yourself. And, you know, the rest of that jazz. I also thought that being an adult happens right after you graduate from college. Scary.
Because of this, I didn’t want to spend my college years being coddled by my parents. I was afraid of finishing college and not yet knowing how to properly cook for one. (Spoiler: I still cant. I cook for four people, which isn’t too bad because it makes for good meal prepping!) I was terrified that I’d lack all these life skills by staying at home and I’d be completely lost when it’s time for me to leave home.
Moving away for college has allowed me a sense of security. It’s kind of like a safety net for adulthood. If I mes up, I’m still a kid and I could call my parents to help me fix things.
I wanted to get away from my high school.
Don’t get me wrong– high school wasn’t the worst four years of my life. I was never bullied, I had a good group of friends, and I was generally content for the majority of the four years. But a majority of my high school graduates to go to nearby schools, and I wanted to branch out.
Because I have a hard time making friends, I didn’t want to have to rely on clinging to my old high school pals. I wanted to blossom in college, as cringey as that sounds, and force myself to make friends.
I’m also not very fond of who I was in high school. Coming to college meant a fresh new start for me. I wanted to be friendlier, be more sociable, and finally wear decent clothes as opposed to whatever my fashion sense was back then. But, from my experience, it’s hard to grow when everyone you’re surrounded by still remembers you as that awkward fifteen year old.
Now, because I go to a suitcase school, I’m not completely starting all over. My freshman year roommate was a high school classmate. So is one of my closest friends in college. But it’s big enough that I have the opportunity to grow and change. Furthermore, it let me branch out from them to meet new people and have new interests.
Are you considering a suitcase school?
Or did you already go to one? Please share your experiences or why you’re considering it– I’d love to hear others’ stories.
For commuter students/those who want to be a commuter student, I hope this post doesn’t come across as me bashing on the idea. It just personally wasn’t for me, but I can see the merits and why it’s a good idea for some people! What have been your experiences as a commuter student?
And for those reading this that are deciding on where to go for college– good luck on your journey!