By Anna Tiernan
It’s that time of the year again. Thoughts of next year’s housing options are in the air! Many students chose to apply for on-campus housing and are anxiously weighing their options among the residence hall areas. Others are in the ranks of the student population opting for an off-campus address.
Now on our third Penn State student leaving on-campus housing after their sophomore year, we have gotten used to the process. But still, as a parent, I can’t help but question their choice. Why on earth would you want to leave campus? Everything is there for you – classes, meetings, libraries, dining halls, gyms, and campus activities. Why would you sacrifice sleep for a commute? If you complain about making it across campus for a class, why do you want to add additional walking time or a bus ride to make it to campus in the first place? Why do you want to go to the grocery store, cook for yourself, maintain a kitchen, wash dishes, and clean a bathroom?
So here is what we’ve learned from our students. While two of our kids were ready to leave the residence halls after their first year, our third child loved on-campus living enough to stay.
Our first son and his freshman roommate didn’t feel they had a lot in common and spent little time in the room together. During his first semester of sophomore year, he lived in a supplemental room with one of his friends. After a few months, thought, he decided that he would benefit from more space. Learning of an opening in a double room, he took it. This wasn’t a great match though, as his new roommate stayed up all night playing on-line video games. For his junior year, he and friends moved to an off-campus apartment near a grocery store, staying in apartments and townhouses together until they all graduated.
Our second child had a freshman roommate that constantly had friends in the room, at all times of the day and night. By the second semester, our daughter found an open room with a friend and roomed on-campus happily for the rest of freshman and sophomore years until the off-campus bug bit. The reasoning was that she wanted a greater selection of what she could eat, so grocery shopping and cooking were desirable things.
Our third child was fortunate enough to really hit it off with his freshman roommate! Along with other new friends, they chose to live together sophomore year in a residence hall suite close to their classes (literally the next building over for him). For his junior year, thought, he’s planning to move off campus. His biggest complaint this year is having to bang on the wall to get the students who live next door to turn their music down.
Living choices aside, we’ve come to realize that our students are really after more freedom. It was initially thrilling to leave home and be able to do what they wanted, when they wanted, and not have parents looking over their shoulders. Independence with the security that all of their needs were taken care of,
their own bed, meals, and a clean bathroom provided. Moving closer to adulthood, our students are ready to shed another layer of accountability, mainly campus oversight, while accepting more of the adult responsibilities involved with taking care of themselves. Plus they get to pick out their housing accommodations and live with friends, or at least roommates of their choosing.