Did you make the right choice?

Living off campus

You may have heard horror stories about living on campus, or you may not know the first thing about what college life is really like. Regardless of how much you know, it does not stop the shaky breaths, does it? You do not know all the answers and you keep running through worst-case scenarios in your mind.

I was petrified of living on campus, so much that I ended up commuting from home my first two years of college. It was great…for a while. I liked being able to keep the sense of security I felt at home, but eventually it became a hassle.

Commuting is difficult, especially once you factor in money for fuel, commuting time, parking, traffic, bad weather and a host of other problems.

It seemed I was always on the road or stuck on campus trying to kill several hours between classes, study groups, work and meetings with my registered student organizations.

I lost my drive. Studying was a challenge and I grew disheartened. A good friend noticed and suggested that I try living in the residence halls for at least one semester and give it a chance.

I did, but I cheated; I paid for a private room. I knew myself well enough to know that having a roommate would have driven me bonkers.

As a small-town, home-schooled student who was raised as an only child, I was not prepared for what I had walked into. The residence hall was loud with thumping music, people shouting and running down the halls and occasional fire drills.

Despite my growing fear of what I had gotten myself into, I now enjoy living in the residence halls. Sure, I cannot stand the noise sometimes (OK, all the time), but at least I meet new people when I ask them to turn their music down.

Deciding if commuting or living on campus is better depends on the person. I have done both and neither one affected my grades.

Living on campus gave me more time to work part-time and hang out with friends, but commuting gave me a life outside of college.

What about apartments and other forms of housing? The same hazards that are associated with commuting apply. You have to pay for (and cook) your own food, pay for utilities and so on.

If you are responsible and have the time to cook and buy groceries, then it might be right for you. The residence halls are many things, but cheap they are not.

Whatever you choose, make sure your college experience does not suffer, or your grades.

Regardless of how much you want to roll your eyes when people tell you not to miss out on the college experience, they have a point. It is the whole “don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it” deal.

Personally, I think college students are only young once and should take the time to enjoy their “freedom” while it lasts. There will be plenty of time to wake up at 6 a.m. and sit in rush hour traffic.

The college years are about exploring who you are and who you want to be. You don’t want to look back on your college years and have any regrets.