4 Factors to Consider Before Your Student Moves Off Campus
This article is brought to you by Uloop, a leading college news and college classifieds resource for off-campus student housing, student jobs and internships, college roommates and sublets, tutors and scholarships, test prep and local services for college students.
By: Rhiannon Winner, Uloop
Moving off-campus can be terrifying for both the student and their parents. It is an unknown, and certainly not right for every student and their family.
On one hand, it offers a new level of freedom and added responsibilities for the student if all goes well. The parents might even receive a lower billing statement if the search goes well. But before a student and their parents rush into the decision to move off-campus, there are four factors they must consider.
1. Why does your student want to move off campus?
Living off campus sounds exciting to many college students, and for good reason. The accommodations are often better, plus students don’t have to worry about the housing lottery and can share a house or apartment with friends.
But what is your student’s main motivation? Will being removed from the campus impact their social life or academic career? Students are often less motivated to get to class when it requires waking up an extra half an hour early so that they can actually walk, drive, or catch another form of transportation to campus.
Attending a professor’s office hours might not seem worthwhile when they’re suddenly a few miles away, and microwavable ramen for dinner every night might seem preferable to making the trek to the dining hall.
They might choose to miss out on clubs or other fun campus events if it seems too difficult to get to them. Depending how far your student is from campus, how easy it is for them to return, how much transportation will cost (if anything), and other factors unique to your student, living off-campus might not be worth it.
Make sure that your student has thought through their decision, and isn’t just rushing into it because it sounds fun.
2. Is it cheaper?
If money is an issue — and with most college students and their families, it is — then you and your student need to sit down and set a budget. The cost of off-campus housing should not exceed the cost of on-campus housing, and in an ideal situation, it should be lower.
In some areas, especially large cities, finding cheap, nearby, and suitable living arrangements off-campus can be difficult. Before deciding to move off-campus, have your student really think through the costs of this. Will they have to spend money on bus fare or gas? Will they have to start cooking for themselves?
Even if the apartment or whatever living arrangement your student selects is cheaper than the cost of room and board at their college, it may end up being more expensive in the long-run if they have to cover unanticipated transportation, utility, or food costs.
Make sure to crunch the numbers with your student and see if living off-campus really is cheaper.
3. How will your student get to campus?
As basic as this question might seem, it must be considered. Will your son or daughter feel comfortable walking to and from campus late at night? If they are taking a bus, does it run 24/7 or will they have to be home by a certain time every night?
If they’re using their own car, is there parking available for them at school and at their off-campus living arrangement? Make sure that your student has a reliable way to get to and from the campus, and feels comfortable doing so.
4. Who will your student be living with?
Few students who live off campus choose to do so alone. Costs can run quite high, so most prefer to split it between friends. Depending on where your student is living, they might only have an apartment large enough to share with one roommate, or if it’s in a house, maybe even a half a dozen others.
Make sure that your student knows every person that they are planning to live with well. Are they reliable enough to make payments on time? Are they heavy drinkers likely to hold late night parties, while your student prefers to stay in on Friday nights? Or are they the quiet types, while your student intends to invite others over on the weekends for parties?
Whatever the situation, make sure that your student knows them well and lays down ground rules with the other roommates as soon as they move in (or earlier, if possible). Since it’s often friends who end up living together, your student definitely doesn’t want to lose someone close to them over a housing-related disagreement. Make sure to avoid these kinds of catastrophes by planning ahead and making sure your student’s roommates are reliable and have compatible personalities.
Moving off-campus is, without a doubt, a scary decision to make for students and parents alike. But as long as everyone involved looks at the options ahead of time and plans finance, travel, and friendships in advance, your off-campus move is sure to go smoothly (well, as smoothly as anything can go in college)!