As a college student, I was both excited to get out of the dorms and nervous to find out about all the bills and services I would have to keep up with when I decided to live off-campus.
After the first year in the dorms, the University highly encourages off-campus living due to the thousands of new freshmen who come in each year. Many love the “apartment life” and independence from University housing, but there are many things the University did for me while I was a freshman that I truly miss and will cherish.
First, there is the meal plan. Being able to have hot and readily available food at all times is a beautiful thing. If you are the kind of person who gets cravings often, then apartment life may be the choice for you, but as a busy student, I have to eat whatever I can get my hands on. In order to save money and eat efficiently, I mostly just eat some combination of bread and pasta for my meals. Trust me, grocery shopping sucks.
Being able to have a quick dinner and getting back to homework saved some precious time last year, especially during test weeks and finals. Having to stop your day to go grocery shopping, prepare a meal, and clean up the dishes are just some of the downfalls of apartment living.
The University also did an excellent job making sure the dorms were clean, the trash was taken out and the students were satisfied. There is nothing like being able to clean your room in 10 minutes maximum. If there were any plumbing, water and electric issues in the dorm, it was extremely easy to call in a University worker and have them fix the problem in a timely manner.
Living in apartments and having to first go through the landlord, then having to remind them to fix the problem can be annoying and draining, especially for a student who has classes and homework to worry about on top of house problems.
The dorms are meant for minimal living space, but the University does a great job of creating an efficient atmosphere for cleanliness with recycling bins all across the dorms, trash bins right outside the building and custodial workers who are always quick and happy to help. I heard it last year and I’ll admit it: the University is the best landlord.
It is also so easy to make friends freshman year in the dorms. People are all around you, and often there is at least one person with your major on your floor. There are people you can study with, and late night friends can be found in the lounges.
There were people with old tests from various sources that could help to alleviate stress, or familiarize the student with the material and formatting.
There always seemed to be something to do in the dorms, even if there wasn’t time to participate in it. Everyone in the dorm was active in clubs.
On game days, there were huge groups of people to walk with to the games, and big crowds in the lounges to watch on television if it was an away game.
Overall, the people who lived in the dorms are ultimately the same people who create the entire experience and utopia that is dorm life.
Some may think apartment living is the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s really just a lot more independence tied in with more bills, more stress and more things to worry about. There are exceptions to this trend, with many apartment complexes being built on campus that mimic some of the qualities of dorms that make them comfortable to live in.
Apartment life isn’t exactly what it seems to be, with the hassle of driving to class, scheduling according to campus availability and dealing with your house and car being a target for the ever-growing drunken community that swarms our campus from Thursday to Sunday.
If I could do it again, I’d ride out the dorms as long as I could.