If you find yourself on the fence about living off-campus, it might be helpful to know that renting an apartment with friends during college provides many learning opportunities for stepping out into the ‘real’ world after college. It provides a greater level of freedom and independence and in most cases costs less than on-campus housing/room and board.
The transition to a fully independent life after graduation can be difficult, particularly if a student has spent four years living in college dorms, where a student has few needs that aren’t met on campus. Since semester fees are paid in advance, and meal plans are part of room and board, there are few additional expenditures needed other than for books, materials and supplies, and maybe a night out here and there. Typically a student needs to maintain one room and get along with one roommate, get to classes on time, do their homework and remember to stop at a dining hall a few times each day. That being said, there are benefits to having more space and the ability to be away from the noise and intrusions that come from living in close quarters with hundreds of other students that are universal in dorm life.
The move to off-campus housing provides experience in becoming a more responsible adult. As part of a household comprised of other college students (often friends), interpersonal skills become more important. Having the ability to choose the people you live with lays a strong foundation for establishing deeper friendships and a larger network of good friends that you carry with you after college. There is a good deal of personal growth that occurs when you focus on getting along well with others and giving consideration and space when your housemates need it. Contributing time and energy to daily and weekly household chores, keeping things clean and tidy and taking care of laundry are part of establishing good routines that can stay with you far beyond a student’s college years. In addition, the ability to plan and choose your own meals and eat a healthier diet is another plus.
In most cases, off-campus life is far less expensive than housing/room and board costs through a college, but the responsibility falls on the student to plan their budget and be responsible with their finances. Planning and sticking to a monthly budget lays a foundation for fiscal health in the future. Rent payments, meal planning and grocery shopping are a few things that need to be incorporated into a monthly financial plan as well as any transportation costs and other items – entertainment, extras, etc.
Because students are farther away from campus, time management becomes important. Making sure to allow for ample time to get to classes and other commitments on time translates into better organizational skills. Factoring in homework and assignments to the daily schedule, without being distracted by other things going on, or the temptation of going out or watching a movie helps to strengthen a student’s ability to prioritize the things that are important.
In general, living off- campus can be a great experience and can help ease a student into ‘adulting’. It is a step between dorm life and full independence where one can gain practical experience that will absolutely help with stepping out into the world after graduation. For information about apartments and rentals in the Oneonta Area for students at Hartwick College and the State University of New York at Oneonta, visit OneontaStudents.com, or call Michael Stolzer at 607-434-5438.