Why I’m glad I never had the “dorm experience”


By Victoria Snell

I transferred from community college to the University as a sophomore. After I learned of my acceptance (much later than most) in the spring of my freshman year, I had to deal with declaring a major (I came in undeclared), tuition and, of course, housing.

As if making a transition wasn’t scary enough, I was on a time crunch. I had less than one month after my acceptance to secure my housing, without ever physically seeing my options.

Before I looked into other options, I immediately wanted to live in the dorms. Since I’d spent the last two years going to community college, I had never had that “dorm” experience I’d heard so much about. When comparing this to the thought of living back at home, I knew I wanted a chance to meet new people and start fresh.

Little did I know, that “dorm” experience came with a pretty hefty price tag.

As I’m sure many college students know, money is a major factor to consider when coming to college. I’ve always worked for what I wanted, and I come from a lower-middle class family. Because I had looked into housing so late in the game, I had lost the opportunity to live in the cheaper options for dorms.

Living in dorms was almost impossible to achieve on my budget, and, at one point, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to actually transfer. It was a scary thought, considering I had done so much to get into the University in the first place.

After filing some paperwork, I was granted a waiver to live in an apartment off-campus. I literally signed a lease within the last two weeks of summer with a girl whom I had only talked to through e-mails and Facebook messages.

Again, scary.

While I finally jumped over that hurdle, I was going to be experiencing the lifestyle change that all of my friends had already gone through.

I arrived at my new apartment a week before anyone had even arrived on campus. Not knowing anyone, I spent the first few nights alone, and I had my stereotypical freshman breakdown. However, the feeling quickly passed. Living in an apartment straight into college began to feel almost…natural. I think this was because my experience at community college had already forced me to grow up faster than most people my age. This feeling was reaffirmed two weeks ago, as I was walking back to my apartment with my boyfriend. He asked me if I felt as though I had missed out on the “complete” college experience because I hadn’t spent a year in the dorms.

Honestly, when I look back on my life, I do feel like I missed out on some of the exciting things about coming to a university straight out of high school.

I will never experience being stuck in a tiny room with a roommate whom I hate. I will never experience the awkward first time walking into a dining hall knowing that I might be sitting alone. I will never experience the “coolness” of getting into a bar at midnight on my 19th birthday.

And while friends have told me that I’m lucky that I didn’t need to go through it all, I can’t help but feel like I missed out.

Regardless, even though people might think that going straight to an apartment is an isolating option, I feel the complete opposite. Maybe it’s who I am, but I feel like moving into an apartment made me want to get out of my shell even more.

Living in my own apartment forced me out of my comfort zone. I was forced to make friends with people through classes and RSOs, not just because they lived on my floor. I’ve also become closer to people who I went to high school with, as well as their friends.

If I was able to go back in time, or if I had been given the funds to live in a dorm as a transfer student, I honestly don’t think that I would do it. If going away to school has taught me anything, it’s that what’s meant to happen will happen.

Anyone who knows me knows that this is a huge thing for me to say, considering that I used to be (and sometimes still am) an uptight person. But everything that has happened to me has been for the best.

I feel like I may have missed out on some things, but I have gained so much from my experience in an apartment that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Victoria is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]