Well, we are up to Step 10 out of the 14 steps of your kid’s summer homework. So far, so good. Keep checking our workbook How To Explore Your College Options: A Workbook for High School Students for further detail and more examples (it’s still available at Amazon).
Step 10 calls for your son or daughter to investigate on-campus housing options, which could make some difference in where to apply and where to enroll if you are planning for him or her to live in college housing. Some students, of course, will be commuting to campus, so these questions might seem less important; however, plans change, so housing is still worth a look--both freshman housing and upperclassman housing.
By the way, there are some colleges where the majority of students live in campus housing well past the freshman year, including colleges that actually have a multiple-year housing requirement. What are all those colleges--and their students--thinking? So, send your son or daughter to each college’s website to answer Questions 28 through 31 on this topic.
1. Freshman Housing Requirement Question 28 asks students to check off whether each college on their LLCO (that, is, their Long List of College Options) requires freshmen to live in on-campus housing. Why would there be a freshman housing requirement, you might ask? Here’s what we wrote to students just like your son or daughter:
Let us start by saying that we think you should live on campus as a freshman if at all possible, given whatever financial constraints your family has. As a matter of fact, many colleges actually require it--for both good and not-so-good reasons.
A really good reason is that living together in campus housing (whether that means traditional dorms or residential “houses” or something else) does promote a kind of camaraderie among students that is hard to develop any other way. Living in close proximity to others in your same situation often provides a system of support and friendship that many kids at college want and need--whether that comes from studying late into the evening/morning together or eating together or walking back and forth to classes together or meeting each other’s friends and just hanging out together. Perhaps a not-so-good reason, though an understandable one from a college’s point of view, is that colleges need to fill those dorm rooms and bring in the revenue that comes from filling them.
The importance of living on campus is similar to the importance of going away to college, in our opinion. Both provide you with a way to spread your wings in a relatively safe and protected environment before you are ready to be completely on your own. Living in campus housing requires you to figure out how to eat, study, do laundry, clean up, sleep enough, and manage money--without having to deal with the safety and transportation and utilities issues that come with off-campus housing and without the comparative ease of living at home.
So, even if you are going to a college in your hometown or within commuting distance of home, try to live on campus--especially if you can afford it, but even if you need to use scholarship funds or loans to cover it. Why? Because it is an integral part of the college experience--especially if you are attending a college close to home.
2. Types of College Housing If you have visited any colleges so far in your search, you probably already know that not all residential facilities are created equal when it comes to attractiveness, comfort, convenience, supervision, and security. But prospective students should also remember to think about what residential life will be like not only as freshmen, but also as upperclassmen with more and/or different housing options, including apartments nearby, but off campus, and perhaps fraternity and sorority houses.
The residential facilities that a college provides are usually wel