Student opinion: Thoughts on off-campus living
College experiences center around new interactions and relationships with other young adults while also trying to discover independence possibly for the first time. College becomes an environment where students adapt to the world around them. For an upcoming student, the importance of making college memories is undeniable. Students even find themselves placing socialization above academics to create those classic college memories. As students get used to the college life, the desire to seek life-changing experiences lowers, and independence becomes the priority. The next step toward that independence is moving-off campus.
As a former residential student and a current commuter student at Liberty University, both living situations have their benefits and setbacks. The biggest advantage of living off-campus is the newly found freedom. Some rules Liberty enforces feel as if they are trying to constrain students. For example, from a commuter’s perspective, curfew is the largest setback. As students emerge into adulthood, the pressure of meeting a set curfew restricts their choice-making ability. The peak of my productivity occurs at night, so coming to the dorm before midnight was a struggle. I believe curfew should be optional, regardless of age. Either way, commuter life allows students the opportunity to experience college on their own terms.
Secondly, I can finally enjoy the privacy not found in a dorm setting. All throughout my junior year, I had different roommates. Two other students living in the same room as I did cut my boundaries short, and I had to learn the importance of compromise. Living off-campus has provided me with more space for my autonomy. I can’t deny the satisfaction of having a room all to myself. It is nice going to bed late at night without worrying about waking up a roommate.
Thirdly, I like the affordability that comes from living off-campus. My rent in a semester living in an off-campus apartment only adds up to half of the price for a spot at the cheapest on-campus options. I have my own bathroom, living room and kitchen. I have more amenities at my disposal without having to pay for any expensive fees on-campus students pay. Splitting expenses, including rent and utilities, between housemates is more efficient than having to pay the full amount of rent with a third of the available space.
As far as downsides to commuting go, the social isolation can turn into a creeping monster. The opportunity to socialize with other students becomes challenging. The social network off-campus cannot compare to the on-campus community within Liberty. I lived in the Circle for three years, and I do miss the social interaction I had while living on a dorm. Most of the time, I was surrounded by 74 other girls in my hall with whom I developed friendships. Once I moved off, it felt strange to be lonely, but I started to prioritize schoolwork over my social life.
Although on-campus housing provides some benefits to students, namely in the realm of socialization, off-campus housing provides upperclassmen with the freedom and privacy they need to thrive in college life.
Garcia is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter