Students en route
October 7, 2014
For many students, making the decision to live in a house or apartment can be challenging. Even more intimidating is the prospect of having to commute to campus every day. But just as on-campus living does, living off-campus has both its pros and cons.
Jared Roberts, senior in LAS, has lived off-campus all four years of college, after starting out as a freshman at Parkland College and then transferring to the University. He is an experienced off-campus resident, having lived with and without roommates, in places both close and far from campus.
“I’ve never lived on campus, so I’ve always had to commute,” he said. “Whether it be a couple miles to 50 miles.”
Roberts currently lives in Decatur, Illinois, a 45-minute drive from campus. In order to avoid making the commute every day, Roberts said he has spaced out his schedule to take days off during the week.
“Generally, the classes I have to take are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, so those are the times that I will schedule all of my classes,” he said.
Although he appropriately schedules his classes to avoid the commute as much as he can, Roberts said he has been restricted in taking more than the minimum required credit hours because of the commute.
Despite this, he said he prefers being away from the noise and commotion of campustown because it allows him to escape from the hustle and bustle and have a more isolated living situation, which he prefers.
“I think campus is very loud, and there’s not really a lot of space to just study and be by yourself,” he said.
But perhaps one of the biggest factors of on-campus housing is sustaining a monthly rent, and, according to Roberts, living off-campus can make that even more difficult. He said a key to living off-campus is maintaining a source of income, in addition to making time to keep up with schoolwork.
Another difficulty with living off-campus is maintaining friendships while living so far away from school, he said.
Roberts said he did live in Champaign for his sophomore year solely to make friends, before moving back to Decatur.
“Once you already have those relationships, or you have people that can help you network, you don’t really need to be on campus as much,” he said.
While Roberts said that living away from campus is not for everyone, he believes it is a great option for people who prefer to keep their school and home lives separate.
Kirsten Ruby, associate director of Housing for communications and marketing, has another take. She said iving off-campus is a “very personal decision,” but also stressed the importance of responsibility when choosing to live off-campus. Overall, she believes that living on-campus until junior year is vital for students to learn certain skills before they are ready to live on their own.
On top of maintaining schoolwork, living in proximity to campus offers privileges such as the community, campus security, dining halls and access to other facilities. ”
Ruby recommended off-campus students should especially pay attention to their spending when dining out. Food prices fluctuate, and keeping that in mind while maintaining a budget and schoolwork can be difficult.
But among things to keep in mind when deciding to leave or stay on campus, is how to gauge whether moving off-campus is a viable option or not.
Brittany Glenn, program manager for the Tenant Union, profiled many of the reasons that students prefer to live off-campus. These reasons included having private bedrooms and bathrooms and having a place to cook. However, one of the benefits of living closer to campus, Glenn explained, is the parking situation.
Glenn said that having an apartment closer to campus can be beneficial in that students will not need to drive to class, therefore eliminating the need to buy a temporary parking space.
However, living outside of the school’s vicinity does mean establishing a parking situation, which Roberts said he is no stranger to.
“I have to buy a parking spot every semester,” he said. “And those are really expensive.” He said has spent up to $300 for a yearlong parking space.
Roberts said that organization is another crucial element to living off-campus. He recommends students only move off-campus once they are ready to take on additional responsibilities, such as managing both their time and finances.
“Make sure you get everything done on time,” he said. “Make sure you can wake up two hours before your classes start. That’s really the only thing that I think is the hardest.”
Josh can be reached at [email protected]