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  • An empty bedroom in a college student’s apartment.

    Off-Campus Chronicles: 10 savvy tips to navigating adulthood

    Cydell Still

    As you go through your college experience, the sense and urgency to mature and embrace adulthood starts to dawn on you. The realization is not just something you understand in your head, but something you feel and experience. Many have their own view of what that first real step of adulting in college feels like, but to me, the first thing that comes to mind is to take that big step of renting an apartment off-campus.

    Though this may seem intimidating, here are 10 things every college student should know about living off-campus!

    1 - Checklists! Checklists! Checklists!

    Even before you move in, it’s a good idea to have a bunch of different checklists of what you are looking for in an off campus living space, some examples being location from campus or any amenities you desire, such as a shuttle to campus or a gym/pool. All those things should be listed to help track pros and cons of each living space you come across in your search.

    2 - Communication is Key

    If you plan on living in a space with a roommate or several, it is important to establish clear communication with all parties. Make a set of guidelines for the different responsibilities and things that could cause conflict in your shared space. Since you oversee your own things and there is no overall authority, it would be a good idea for everyone to contribute to the guidelines.

    3 - Smart Shopping

    Without a meal plan it can be quite challenging to decide on what to buy food wise. For those who live alone, it would be best to decide your essentials beforehand so you can get the basics of what you need. As for people with roommates, it’s better to decide together who buys what or if you’re going to split the grocery bill at all.

    4 - Practice Self-Control

    Along with smart shopping, knowing the difference between needs and wants is a huge skill to learn while you live off campus. This is not money coming out of your tuition, this is your own expenses and learning where to invest that money is very important. You do not need those $500 headphones.

    5 - “Hey Siri, Play the Clean Up Song”

    It is crucial for tenants to fully comprehend their responsibilities regarding the maintenance and repairs of the rented property. This is where you live, and you want to make sure everything is up to your standards. Utilize maintenance request for larger repairs, but a bi-weekly clean up goes a long way.

    6 - Public Transportation is Your Friend

    As someone who does not drive, I was getting tired of spending money for Uber and Lyft. Check out the local transportation and see what services they offer. If your residence is close to campus, ask if they offer a shuttle that drives to the local stores in the area. Bikes are also useful forms of transportation, going to class or to your local corner store, and you can get some exercise done.

    7 - Stay Safe!

    Become familiar with local emergency protocols and resources. Using tools like a Ring camera on your front door keeps you at ease when you’re away. It is also a good idea to become aware of the location of the closest police, fire, and hospital stations.

    8 - Don’t Always Rush Home

    Having a gap between classes allows you to use that time productively. Instead of going home and potentially getting distracted, you can stay on campus and make the most of your time. Whether it's studying in the library, working on group projects, or catching up on readings, staying on campus can enhance your focus and productivity.

    9 - Remember the College Experience

    No matter how far away you may live off campus, you are still considered a commuter student. A lot of emails about events and other activities that happen on campus might not reach you until it’s too late. Try to keep a schedule of the different events that way you can still get that thrilling college experience.

    10 - Sweet, Sweet, Freedom

    This is your own place! It gives a better sense of adulthood, and you get a more profound sense of independence without supervision. Living off campus gives you a high level of privacy that you are probably looking for after the lack of it in dorm life. The creative possibilities are endless. Decorate or design it however you like. You make the rules, enjoy it!

    Living off campus during college comes with several perks. It offers a taste of independence and responsibility, preparing you for life beyond the campus bubble, while also encouraging you to engage with the local community and develop a more well-rounded college experience. I hope the decision to live off campus can contribute significantly to personal growth and a more enriching college life.

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