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College Advice

Living in the Dorms After Freshman Year

DormEssentials April 16, 2019

With the end of the school year approaching, some of you have been on top of your game and already have your living situation for next year planned out, you go-getters, you. The rest of you are probably wondering if you should still be living in the dorms after freshman year. Kudos to the percentage of people in that group who have neurotically had their sophomore year leases signed before their first semester freshman year was even close to being done. Others are still searching, and then there’s the handful of people still on the fence about where to even begin to look. Some of you who live nearby may even be debating spending a few more years at home to save some money (spoiler: don’t do this. You’ll regret not being on campus; you have the rest of your life to payback loans you may need to take). To all of you, we recommend identifying where (and with who) on campus you will live after freshman year as soon as you can. Some of you may stay living in the dorms after freshman year.

At some schools, the answer is clear: everyone lives in on-campus housing for two years or all four just because it’s the only option around. But at most schools, freshman try to branch out of the dorms by living in their first apartments, their fraternity or sorority houses, or even a real house with bedrooms to rent to others. Taking an apartment or house nearby gives you the flexibility of finding an option that suites your budget and exact living requirements (single, double, studio, etc.). Make sure that the people you want to live with are people you can trust, and that if you sign a full semester lease you have confidence that each member is going to uphold their lease agreement. Anywhere near campus, off on your own with your friends will bring a great college experience and set of memories. Given these other housing options that will arise, should you still take the option of living a second year in the dorms?

Sure, you could just sign up and fork over a load of money to the school, and they will definitely reserve a spot in their system for you, or: you could level up and become the sacred Resident Adviser (RA for short). There are a ton of perks that come with being a Resident Adviser/Assistant. Mainly: free boarding and a room all to yourself—that statement will almost never happen again in life by the way, unless of course, you’re living at your parent’s house. However, the role or Resident Adviser does take training & work, and…being on your best behavior.

As an RA, you’re the “elder” to all the freshmen around you who have questions on where things are on campus, or who may need you to intervene and keep the peace with their floormates. While it may feel good to play the mentor role, sometimes you’ll have to switch into the “bad cop” role. This means you’ll have to enforce the university’s rules on drinking & smoking—amongst other extra curricular activities—and not get caught doing it yourself. For some people this is a no-brainer: saving hundreds every month and all I have to do is not drink in my room? Sign me up. And for others this may take making a pro’s and con’s list. There’s a lot of work that is done before the school year starts as well: prepping little gift to welcome all your new residents, planning floor events that engage everyone (and are ideally more fun to them than getting drunk), and living in the dorms for a few weeks before everyone moves in.

Another thing to consider is that unlike paying the school to have a bed set aside for you, applying to be an RA can be an extensive process with interviews and summer-time training. It should be taken into account that this is a job that would need you for a whole year—so unlike that summer serving job you got for cash tips, you can’t just quit whenever you like. The best thing to do if you’re considering applying to be an RA is to talk to your current one! See what they have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) about the job, and see if their cons are things you wouldn’t be bothered by or can learn to manage. Whether you decide to pursue the role of an RA or go for an apartment or house nearby campus, it is important to get your college living situation on lock before summer hits!

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