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Housing decisions: Living on campus or off?

From the Winter 2007 Parent Newsletter

At the beginning of the spring semester, students who currently are living in residence halls will make decisions about where they will live next year. The reapplication process in the residence halls begins in January, shortly after students return from winter break.

Residence hall living provides students with a host of benefits, such as friendships and activities, close proximity to classes and campus services, a dining plan, and safe housing. It also means living in a relatively small space with several hundred other students nearby.

Apartments offer more independence than the residence hall, but they require a greater degree of responsibility. Living off campus may mean that students have less time for studying. Commuting takes time, students are responsible for cooking their own meals and doing dishes, and they usually have more space to clean and care for. Any conflicts with roommates must be resolved without the help of a community adviser or hall director.

A popular transition for many students is selecting a single room in a traditional residence hall or an apartment-style living space on campus. The University has three apartment-style buildings: Yudof Hall, University Village, and Roy Wilkins Hall. Each provides students with their own cooking facilities and more privacy than a residence hall but still offers the support of residence hall staff and a secure, University-owned building.

When you talk with your student about next year's housing plans, encourage her or him to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the decision. Think about the following questions as you talk with your student.

By the end of winter break, has your student talked with you about remaining in the residence hall or moving off campus?
Students should give careful consideration to their living arrangements for next year. If a student makes a quick decision to get an apartment, or if that decision is based on peer pressure, he or she is unlikely to take into account the responsibilities that go along with apartment rentals.

Will your student miss the campus involvement and social opportunities available in the residence halls?
Students usually find it much easier to meet friends, get together for social events, and be involved with campus activities when they are living on campus. An extra year of living in the residence halls can establish a firm connection to other students and to campus organizations that will benefit students throughout their remaining college years.

Is your student ready for apartment living?
Students should have provided evidence that they can take care of themselves, as well as prioritize and make good choices in managing money, choosing friends, balancing social and study time, achieving acceptable grades, and attending to health and safety concerns.

They should at least have minimal cooking and cleaning skills for apartment living. Students must consider the fact that basic housekeeping means time added to an already busy study schedule, and they should address these issues with prospective roommates. (When students are home for winter break, they have an opportunity to demonstrate for you their cooking and cleaning skills.)