Derrick Lee Bradshaw Sr.

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Derrick Lee Bradshaw Sr.
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How to guide: live at college with off-campus housing

February 28, 2011

Going away to college is a much anticipated time in many young people’s lives. When preparing to move out of the house and away to college, there are many aspects that initially run through our minds; what classes will I take, should I order my books online or go to the bookstore, and what will my roommates be like? Although very important questions, the number one question that you should be asking yourself is where am I going to live? Traditionally, students were assigned to a cramped dorm room with one or two additional people with little to no say-so in the matter. College is a time for new experiences, making lifelong friends, and gaining a different perspective on life. There is a lot to take in and you can help to make this transition easier when you are comfortable with your living arrangement.

Many colleges and universities allow students the option to live off campus. Due to the fact that this is a newer concept, some students overlook this opportunity and end up regretting it in the future. The first thing to consider when choosing where to spend your college years, is to educate yourself concerning the residency rules and requirements of the college you are attending. Some colleges will not allow freshman to live off campus, while others are very accommodating. After you learn the preferences and requirements of your school, it is time to consider your options. You can choose to live on campus and live with a random stranger, or you could think about getting your own place off campus. Many freshmen will live on campus for the first semester or so. If your college does require you to stay on campus or if that is simply what you choose to do, it is a great chance to meet friends and decide who you would like to live with during your remaining stay.

One of the most appealing benefits to living off campus is that it could potentially save you a great deal of money. Traditionally speaking the cost of living on campus is often 3-4 times higher than finding some great off campus housing. When deciding on the college of your choice it is important that you find something that is well within your budget and that is convenient to the school. You also need to ensure that the neighborhood the housing is in is safe. It is important to spend some time looking at the housing areas around the school and getting an idea of the prices and then compare these prices to your own personal budget. Often times, you will be lucky enough to find an off campus residence that includes trash, utilities, and laundry services in your rent. This will help to reduce your living costs further. As stated before, even in cases when those fees are extra, the overall price of living off campus is significantly lower than living on campus. In the trying times of the economy, saving money should be on everyone’s list. Take your time when you are making your decision and always allow 30-60 days to shop around and become familiar with the area. There is generally an application process as well that you should allow time for.

It is also economically beneficial to have multiple roommates; between 2–4 occupants per residence is a good rule of thumb. Initially you may end up in a dorm on campus, but say after a semester or two you build close, trusting relationships with friends that you would enjoy having as your roommate, the option to move into your own place will always be there for you to take advantage of. Not only will you already know the people you are rooming with but you will start to gain the valuable experiences of adult hood. Living with roommates off campus not only has its social and economic benefits but it can also be beneficial environmentally. Living with multiple people lowers the need for each individual to have their own vehicle and car pooling is very common. Having roommates and friends off campus also makes it more fun to ride public transit because you will be accompanied by a fellow comrade. Many schools also run “routes” of transportation from nearby off campus residential communities to campus. There are many available options of transportation when you live off campus.

College is a time of change and discovery and many of the skills that you learn in college will help to propel you into life after college or the “real-world” as some may say. Living off campus is a great way to start gaining your independence and allows you to take full responsibility for yourself and your home. After all you are an adult now; you might as well start living like one. Unless, however, you prefer living in small cramped room, paying, often times, exorbitant rooming costs and being paired up with a complete stranger, you may want to give off campus living a serious thought.

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