It’s a reasonable assumption that “location, location, loca- tion” plays a role for many students who choose The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. That decision
occurs for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost is the natural beauty of the campus.
Stockton’s strategic location in the Pine Barrens of southern
New Jersey ensures that its beauty will be protected and that
its well-known program in environmental studies will be nurtured. The 1,600-acre campus, known as New Jersey’s “green”
college, includes two small lakes, a natural arboretum, a wildlife observatory, and a marine field station.
Add the back bays of the Jersey coastline and the beaches
of the Atlantic Ocean, and you have a winning combination for
recreation and a respected marine sciences program.
Socializing opportunities abound with some of the most
famous boardwalks in the world right down the road. Ocean
City, a traditional family vacation spot, provides a wealth of
summer employment positions for students. Atlantic City, a
world-class resort area, abounds with posh eateries, celebrity
chefs, luxurious hotels, magnificent spas, star-studded entertainment, must-see sporting events, and spectacular gaming
floors. Internships and part-time, career-oriented jobs are a reality for students interested in fields such as hospitality management and tourism.
There are obvious pros and cons when studying in what
some consider a perfect party environment. After 23 years
as a senior student life administrator in a resort college
community, I can say the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Let me explain.
The town–gown concept has a rich history in higher education. We usually don’t hear about it unless a neighborhood is
being affected by students and their sometimes noisy and less-respectful antics. While those behaviors will continue to happen, they certainly are not the norm for our college community.
The symbiotic relationship between our local township and
the larger community is strengthened by the presence of the
college. It is a true laboratory for community living, learning,
It’s fairly intuitive that living, working, and studying so close
to a casino town can present distractions as students move
forward with their academic and career agendas. Yet, the resort
nature of our location has actually contributed to many positive
student life initiatives.
Only about one-third of the students attending Stockton are
true commuters who live in the immediate vicinity. The majority of students either resides on campus or rents apartments
close to campus, sometimes near the beach. The summer
Stockton College students take advantage of the boardwalks,
beaches, and cultural opportunities of nearby Atlantic City
rental season for vacationers actually helps students rent prime
real estate off season, specifically September through May.
Returning to your rented beach home to study or have friends
over is a perk.
Some are concerned that students can be negatively
impacted living and studying so close to a casino environment.
It is true that this environment may exacerbate student addiction issues, including chronic gambling. However, the advent
of Internet technology combined with legal and illegal sports
betting opportunities has extended this environment to society
It is true that alcohol is incorporated in the lifestyle of college
students, whether we like it or not. Free drinks provided on the
casino floor do not help our cause for promoting responsible
drinking. However, we have programs in place to assist those
who might have gambling and/or alcohol addictions, and our
heightened sensitivity aids in both proactive and reactive efforts.
I am not aware of many students who fall prey to these issues
simply because of our proximity to the casino environment.
As far as the co-curriculum, the opportunity for engaging
campus life programs throughout the year is infinite. Our
proximity to Philadelphia (less than one hour) and New York
City (less than two hours) makes our location even more desirable. Academic and service-oriented projects operate through
student life areas to ensure that the local community benefits
from our students, as well. Our days of service routinely involve
the rescue missions and shelters that invariably cohabitate with
resorts. For example, our students, faculty, staff, and administrators can be found serving food in a nearby soup kitchen.
When our faculty band performed their latest gig to raise
money for scholarships, it wasn’t held in the gym—it was held
in Atlantic City at the House of Blues.
Studying and preparing for a career in a resort community
definitely has advantages. I believe that Stockton students
and the general community benefit from having each other
Joe Marchetti is vice president for student affairs at The Richard
Stockton College of New Jersey.