We are beginning the month of June and for some, your first year of college is coming to a close. Think of how you have grown in the past year and how much you have accomplished! It may not seem like a huge deal, but living on your own is a big step to becoming independent, and the first year in college is where it starts for many of us. It’s funny, because looking back on my time in school there is probably nothing I would change. The experiences have made me the person I am today and I have no regrets. However, if there is one thing I would probably re-consider it would be moving off campus for my 2nd year.
Although I actually enjoyed living in the dorms, I couldn’t wait to move out and get an apartment. To be honest, I am not sure why. The best thing about dorm life is that for the most part everything is included! There are no bills for electricity, gas, garbage collection, water, cable, etc. You get a meal plan which allows you to eat 3 square meals a day…and usually as much as you want… with dessert. Because you don’t have to clean up after meals, or for that matter your bathroom and other common places, your chores are limited. You are responsible for your little piece of the world and that is it. The lure to move off campus into an apartment is usually the belief you can save money and have a nicer place. I think it’s more our desire to take the next step towards independence. This means taking on more responsibility that you did not have while living in the dorm. All of a sudden you have bills to pay because electricity, gas, phone and cable are not included. When you are hungry, you have to make a meal and then clean up after it. When you clean, you will need supplies to make everything nice again. Then it’s the things like, paper towel, light bulbs, salt, pepper, toilet paper, etc. The items that were provided for you in the dorms, you are now responsible for.
All of this adds up, and it’s not just the monetary cost that is associated with maintaining an apartment. It is the time associated with the maintenance that people overlook. When the smoke detector starts chirping because it needs a new battery at 3:00am, it’s up to you to drive to the store to buy that overpriced 9 volt battery. So what does the dorm give you that apartment life does not? In my opinion, it gives you peace of mind and less distractions, and as a student it’s hard to put a price on that.
There is nothing wrong with taking on more responsibility if you are able to but there is also nothing wrong with putting that off for one more year. The extra year in the dorm might not be the popular or the exciting decision, but it may be the wise decision. It gives you another year to concentrate on school without the added distractions. The first two years of college are the hardest, and research shows that if you can make it to year 3, the likelihood of you graduating substantially increases. So why not do whatever you can to limit the distractions and increase your likelihood of graduating? Apartment life will always be there and should be a better experience with the added year of maturity. In my case, the lowest grades I made in college were during my 2nd year while living off campus. It is amazing how quickly one grade can lower a GPA. Even more amazing is how much work it can take to raise it back up.
When it is all said and done, everyone has a different situation and motivation for moving off campus. So do what is best for you and your situation. However, if you are on the fence really do consider staying a second year. What you are paying for is “peace of mind.” Society seems to be always making people grow up faster than they need to. There is nothing wrong with taking on more responsibility if you are able to, but there is also nothing wrong for putting that responsibility off for one more year.
I was not prepared for all of the additional responsibilities and distractions that came with living off campus. No one really explains this to you, and to be honest if they did I didn’t listen. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably opt to stay another year on campus and would advise any 1st year student to do the same. Why? ’Cause toilet paper ain’t cheap my friends.