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“Hey, what are you doing?” I asked my friend as he whipped the mop back and forth and up and down in a frenzy. “I’m mopping,” was the reply I received as the dirt was being thrown around the room. All I could think was, “Oh no!” I patiently took the mop from him and showed him how to clean the floor. He was impressed, and all I could do was chuckle. Mopping is one of many experiences that awaits you when you move off campus.
Before you get to have an experience like this though, you need to learn how to get a place to live off-campus. There are a few options that are available, and some of them many people do not even know about. Now is your chance to learn where to go and where to look for that place to live.
The best advice is to start your search early. When the fall semester starts, campuses get crazy, and there are students and parents everywhere. Just know that you are not the only one looking for a place to live. Start by looking at your local newspapers. They offer many opportunities for you to find that perfect place. Your next step is to look online. The internet has many sources that you can use. A good site, in particular, is the marketplace on www.Facebook.com. The possible places to live can be broken down into a few major categories.
Houses: If your family is looking to enlarge its assets, there is the possibility that they can buy a local house. This can give you a place to live, and it also can be quite profitable for your family. Many people are looking for roommates, and they post this in the newspapers and online. Another option for you is to find a house to rent, and then you will be the one posting the ad to find a roommate.
Apartments: To broaden your search even farther or to look for the better financial deal, there is even more you can do. If there are apartments in the area, go there and ask for some information. There is usually a waiting list though, so if this is what you want to do get on it quick.
Greek Route: If you are interested in the Greek life, you should go for it. This not only opens the door up to many great benefits, but it also (most of the time) gets you a place to live. Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority may not be for you, which is fine. If the fraternity or sorority has a house, they can offer spare rooms to non-Greek students. You can contact the treasurer or some other board member to find out if this would be possible. Many students do not know about this last alternative.
Now that you know how to get that off-campus place, you need to know the good and the bad of your decision. When you look at your possible options, the good and the bad aspects of them need to be considered.
Houses: GOOD: If your family purchases a house, it can be extremely profitable. Students are always looking for a place to live. This option lets you tell all of your friends, and you can choose your own roommates. BAD: If your family decides to purchase the house, there is always the problem that the individuals that rent the property will not take good care of it when they live there. You can always bring people to court if it is that serious, and you will win, but this takes your time, money, and energy to put it through the court system. Then there are the roommates. They can be anyone and can have varying habits and temperaments. There is also the neighbors that you have to
worry about. You may have to be careful when it comes to parties with your friends because the surrounding houses may not have college students. When you sign the lease, the length of time that you are renting the house is usually a year. This means that even when you are not there (like the summer), you are still paying for those months.
Apartments: GOOD: Your neighbors are most likely going to be other college students, and they will probably not care so much if you have parties. BAD: In retrospect, they may think that you don’t care if they have parties, and they may have way too many of them. You may get a roommate that you may not get along with. It is also very hard to get a room in certain college towns. You will be put on a waiting list that will sometimes make you wait up to a year for an opening. When you sign the lease, they run usually for a year just like the house lease. Again you are even paying for time that you may not be living there.
Greek Route: GOOD: If you decide to join the Greek community, you open yourself up to a lot of benefits and connections. You will never form closer bonds than the ones you will with your brothers or sisters. If you decide to rent one of their spare rooms, you can rent on a semester basis. This can save you some money. BAD: If you live in a fraternity house, there is the decibel level to worry about if there are a lot of parties. One angry
fraternity member commented, “There were times when I had an exam on a Monday, and all I wanted to do all weekend was study. The party made it virtually impossible for me to do this. I had to lug all of my books to the library which was about a mile away.” Also, you may not be used to house customs. One or two weekends a semester, you may have to find another place to stay because of initiation rituals.
You have picked a great place to live. Now what? Is everything going to be easy? Most likely the answer is no. If you are going from on-campus living to off-campus, you are going to encounter a very exhilarating but stressful transition. There are many new experiences and important things for you to learn. When you first arrive at college, on-campus living offered more freedom and some responsibility. When you move off-campus, you basically have unlimited freedom and a lot more responsibility.
This responsibility will be tested through many different situations that you will encounter. There is always the ongoing influences of drugs and alcohol. You just have to make sure that you make the correct choices. You may choose not to buy a meal plan, and this creates one more responsibility to add to your growing list. When I first walked into a grocery store, I stopped my cart and thought to myself, “What do I do now?” It is a very awkward feeling when you have to buy food for the week and you have never done this before. You may have gone shopping with your mother when you lived at home, but
this will not prepare you for when you step into that store. You have so many more responsibilities. You now have to check the expiration date on that milk. If you have a budget, you have to make sure you don’t exceed it. Not only do you have to buy your own food, but now you have to cook it too. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. Just keep an eye on what you cook so it doesn’t burn, and if that doesn’t work, call Mom or Grandma. They can help you out over the phone.
As you read in the first paragraph, you meet people who have very different backgrounds and may not have the same experiences as you do. Some good advice is to be patient and excepting. This will make everything go very smoothly. A college student expressed their experience, “When I first got to the apartment, I kept to myself. I was even sort of stand-offish. My roommate was always very polite, and eventually, she got me talking with her. I am so glad she did this because we grew very close and now we are inseparable.” You may not have such a bonding experience, but your roommate can definitely be a person you can hang with. If you start a relationship with him/her, it will make life much easier.
If you follow the hints that I offered, you will get a big jump on the competition for those places to live off-campus. Once you are there, relax and have a good time. Good luck!