Where I lay my head is home

Ferris State University offers multiple opportunities to become immersed in college life, including where you live.

According to Ferris’ policy, all students that are under the age of 19 years old or are not planning to live in a permanent home with their parents are required to live in the residence halls for at least two academic semesters.

Ferris liberal arts sophomore Dona’ Worthy feels very comfortable living the residence hall life. Although, she originally chose her residence hall because she was under the impression that it was the closest she could possibly be to her classes—it wasn’t. Worthy still fell in love with the atmosphere Brophy McNerney hall had to offer.

“In McNerney, it’s pretty laid-back,” Worthy said. “I like the friendly environment and I like that I’m not forced to do anything I don’t want to.”

Although an open-door policy is encouraged to make friends, it is not required. A bulletin board is offered with a list of events that will be going on, giving the student the option to attend with friends or even with a group of people from their residence hall. McNerney also offers an active lobby.

“We’ll have game night or karaoke night,” Worthy said. “Sometimes we’ll have study time with your RAs or tea-time with your RAs.”

Living on campus, however fun it may be, does have its downfalls. Worthy discovered that while living on campus, she is not able to return to her home as often because it is so far away. This basically means that during the school year she is on her own. Without a license or car, Worthy has had to depend on other people for transportation.

Another common style of living is a style we’ve all experienced one time or another: living at home.

Ferris criminal justice junior Hannah London said she chose to live at home during her college experiences because it costs less.

When thinking about all the money that goes into not only tuition but also meal plans and living arrangements, you might find yourself thinking that the alternative might be the better option. However, the money you are saving on living arrangements might be costing you in social opportunities.

“When you’re in class you notice that a lot of people know each other and living off campus you don’t really get that. It kind of discourages you from going to on-campus events,” London said. “I feel like it would just be easier if you were in the [halls] and you knew a bunch of people.”

London has been a Big Rapids resident her entire life. Because of this, she could remain home while attending college. Although living at home may be a comforting thought, that didn’t stop London from having some initial fears. In the past, London was worried about not integrating into the Ferris community and was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to experience the independence her fellow classmates did.

Sometimes you find yourself trying out multiple places when looking for the perfect place to live.

Ferris sports communications and professional tennis management senior Steven Shields said that he lived in two previous locations before choosing Campus Creek as his home. In his five years of college, Shields has lived in residence halls, East Campus Suites and now Campus Creek Apartments.

Campus Creek offered Shields the experience of living in a house-like setup while still allowing him to attend school.

Shields said that he missed the convenience of being on campus. Now, instead of most students who set their alarms to be able to sleep in until the last possible second, he has to give himself 30 minutes to get to classes.

Aside from his newfound need for scheduling, Shields also misses how social people were on campus. Being able to relax in the student lobbies playing pingpong or pool whenever he wanted to is a leisure he no longer has at his new residence. Still, he recommends living off-campus after a year or two of on-campus living.

With Ferris having such a diverse community, it is only right that the community holds different views on how to live your college years. However, when asked where to live for your first year of college, the answer was unanimous.

“It is important to establish yourself on campus before leaving to live on your own,” Ferris secondary English education sophomore Marissa Van Alst said. “You are able to do a lot more off campus but living on campus for your first year, in my opinion, is vital to create friendships and collaborate with other students.”

Pro Tips When Looking for Apartments

1. Start your search early. Other students already in Big Rapids and those coming in from out of town for the next semester will be looking for living arrangements at the same time. Starting your search as early as possible in the year will give you the best selection and possibly the best prices.

Search Google, Craigslist, newspaper classified ads, and take a walk in the neighborhoods around Big Rapids. You might find what you’re looking for.

2. Visit at least three to four different properties. Not only will this give you a good feel for the range of prices in Big Rapids, and you will also have a better idea of what suits your needs in the price range you’re looking for. Also, rank them and act on them. You may find the apartment you liked was also liked by someone else who now has a lease to it.

3. Make a checklist. As you view the apartments you’re interested in, make a list of what you want. Is having an in-unit washer and drier important to you? Add it to the list. How about other appliances, such as a dishwasher, the type of stove and the type of heat for the apartment?

Be sure to budget properly if the apartment or property is electric or gas heated. Check the condition of the windows and doors, as this can also impact your energy bill in the winter months. While checking the condition of the apartment, check the condition of the furnace and the hot water heater if applicable to make sure all maintenance is up to date. Finally, check the condition of hardware in the bathrooms and kitchen.

Internet and cable are standard for most homes and apartments. Make sure to check if internet is included in the cost of rent or if it’s a separate bill.

4. Ask how the complex is managed. You should know how maintenance and security is handled at your apartment and how to make requests when the need arises.

5. Come to the meeting prepared to leave a deposit. If you look at an apartment and it has everything you want and it’s in your price range, then make your deposit at the meeting. Otherwise, there will be another student more prepared to make the deposit on your ideal apartment.