Joe Kulesza ’22
When it comes to freedom, if high school is structured like an authoritarian regime, then college is the promised land. In this world of no parental oversight, unlimited meal plans, and personal autonomy, students who once followed a rigid schedule in high school are now free to do as they please, confined only by their academic schedule. One of the many forms of freedom that is part of college and is not present in high school is the option to choose where one lives.
While underclassmen are largely confined to on-campus residence halls such as St. Joe’s, Cunningham, or Aquinas Hall, rising seniors have seemingly unlimited options to choose from, as living off campus becomes a possibility.
Excitement over off-campus housing usually begins sophomore year, when deposits on houses are placed. This, in itself, totally makes sense. Commit to your future housing and roommates only a year into college, what could go wrong? Talk over who is living in which house follows shortly after deposits are made, when the words “02908” and “lease agreement” enter into the vocabulary of many students eager to bask in the even greater amount of freedom that comes with living off campus.
The prospects of endless parties, no resident assistants, and private bathrooms seem all too tempting to prospective off campus residents. These benefits are so tempting that the downsides to off-campus housing are seldom taken into consideration.
Along with the heightened freedom of living off campus comes a plethora of responsibilities and contingencies that await students eager to enjoy their senior year.
The picturesque college campus that students are accustomed to during their underclassman years is quickly relinquished for many responsibilities that come along with renting a house in Providence.
Freedom of off-campus living comes at the expense of weekly chores. The previously foreign concept of trash day quickly becomes a reality for students living off campus. If trash barrels are not brought out to the curb on the required day, the trash that would have been picked up is left behind for students to deal with for another week. The problems created by excess trash can quickly compound if missing trash day becomes a habit.
Along with the responsibility of managing trash also comes the responsibility of security. The sheltered environment on campus is starkly contrasted by living off campus in Providence. Break-ins off campus are unfortunately commonplace in the neighborhoods surrounding the College’s campus, and while forgetting to bring out the trash might smell, leaving a car or house door unlocked can result in much worse outcomes.
Living off campus not only means being away from classes, but also food. Many off-campus students find it necessary to cook for themselves since they live farther from the on-campus dining options. But cooking is no simple task, especially for those students who have never had to cook for themselves before.
Students quickly forget about their dirty dishes after placing them on the conveyor belt in Raymond Dining Hall, but this luxury is not available to off-campus students without a meal plan. Dirty dishes are, therefore, left in the sink until someone in the house feels compelled to clean them.
Cooking, dirty dishes, and break-ins aside, the excitement of off-campus living needs to be had with careful consideration into all the contingencies that come along with it. Having an off-campus house is an important step for many students in between college and adult life, but this step should only be taken cautiously with tempered expectations.