OPINION: Suffolk’s non-traditional campus makes the college experience even better

One of the most unique aspects of Suffolk University is the fact that it is not a traditional college campus. Instead, it sits as a cluster of buildings sprinkled around the heart of downtown Boston –– a feature that most other colleges can’t say they have.

Suffolk’s layout is much different compared to stereotypical American universities, which have their own streets solely lined with campus facilities and sprawling grassy quads, all closed together in one gated area. Many turn away at the idea of an urban college, out of fear of missing out on the typical “college experience.” 

However, to me, there is nothing better than living in the city and attending classes on a campus styled this way. Suffolk’s non-traditional campus allows me to get an education in such a diverse and extraordinary setting.

When you step out of any of the university’s buildings and onto the street, you’re surrounded by a plethora of people from all kinds of different backgrounds who are all living their lives around you. According to The New York Times, Boston is home to 675,647 people––a number that is growing. There are tourists, business people, police officers and construction workers, just to name a few I pass every day. 

I believe walking from building to building at Suffolk on the streets of Boston allows for more interaction with the real world. You aren’t just walking alongside students that attend your college, people who are the same age as you and are doing the same exact thing. 

Being in such a large city affords you many great opportunities, because there are so many businesses and companies headquartered in Boston. It can be easier to get a job or an internship, make connections with people in the city and gain real world experience. 

The diversity that one experiences while living on Suffolk’s non-traditional campus is unmatched. Boston is a global hub for an endless number of cultures and backgrounds, which you get to experience every single day when you walk down the street. In fact, in 2017, Boston was ranked the 6th most diverse city out of the 50 biggest cities in the US. I believe that getting to experience such diversity is important so that we can step outside of our own little bubbles and become more knowledgeable, more humble and more mature.

My boyfriend is a student at Virginia Tech, and both times I’ve taken a trip to visit him at school, I found myself comparing his traditional college campus to the couple blocks of downtown Boston I call my school. His school is much larger, and it feels like its own separate town with dozens of classrooms and residence halls in one location.

There’s no question that VT is beautiful. When I visit, I love to walk around and experience it. But when I step onto that open, grassy field they call the “Drillfield” and walk alongside the thousands of students that attend VT, I feel no twang of regret that says, “I’m missing out.” 

When I return to Suffolk, I appreciate the character and aesthetic of my everyday setting. I love the charm of the mismatched Boston buildings; differing exteriors, varying heights –– no two look the same. 

There is a rich history in this city, with it being the center of the American Revolution and boasting tons of historical landmarks. Even Suffolk’s residence hall that sits on 1 Court Street is historical, as it was Boston’s first skyscraper.

Just because we’re in the city doesn’t mean we don’t get to do typical college things. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of living in the heart of Boston is there’s always something to do, and it’s never too far away. Going out at colleges such as VT can easily mean walking 45 minutes one way. At Suffolk, not only is everything walkable, but there are several MBTA stations within the vicinity of campus that can take you anywhere you want to go. Even the airport is easily accessible from Suffolk’s campus.

However, I am sure many Suffolk students can relate when I say I feel like I am missing out on some of the traditional college experiences that are celebrated at other schools––such as tailgates and football games. When I last visited my boyfriend, I got to attend VT’s football game against Notre Dame, and it was an incredible atmosphere. 

With no football team, and no sports fields on campus, we definitely don’t get to take part in typical game day fun. Those kinds of events bring all students together to create a one-of-a-kind environment and raise school spirit. 

Instead, Suffolk students have different events that can bring them together in this way. In Boston, entertainment is constantly happening all around you. A stroll down Washington Street may present you with live music or a dance performance. One of New England’s sports teams is probably playing a game tonight. There are hundreds of award winning restaurants serving up some of the best food in the country, and they’re sprinkled in between our campus buildings.

There is just something about the city that draws me in: I love the noise, I love the busyness. I love walking to class and passing tour guides dressed as the Founding Fathers, and waiting at crosswalks next to people headed to the Financial District to cut their next deal. It is a feeling of empowerment and independence as a student and a young person I just can’t explain.

The way I see it, we’re just sacrificing the traditional college campus aesthetics in exchange for diversity, activity and culture. This is my college experience, and it’s just as real as any of them.