Here's What I Think

My home advice to college freshmen

Posted 4/29/22

Graduation is fast approaching, which means Powell’s seniors will soon go out into the world of dorms and less-than-ideal college apartments. Fortunately, there are ways to make your college …

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Here's What I Think

My home advice to college freshmen

Posted

Graduation is fast approaching, which means Powell’s seniors will soon go out into the world of dorms and less-than-ideal college apartments. Fortunately, there are ways to make your college home an ideal environment.

Those who know me may know that I recently graduated college and have had my own series of housing adventures. From Downey Hall, to a college-owned apartment as both a resident and resident assistant, dear old grandma’s house and finally a place I not so affectionately call the greenhouse, I’ve seen it all. I want to share with those of you who are going out into the world — or know a student going out into the world — the do’s and dont’s of finding and maintaining an adequate college home.

The first and most important rule is do not choose a total stranger as a dorm roommate. Strangers may accuse you of vandalizing their property and then follow you to the movie theater where they proceed to eat your dorm room snacks behind you. This is a true story told to me by a friend, and I’ve heard at least four more just like it (really). I, on the other hand, roomed with an acquaintance. It was bliss.

I recommend doing as I did, purchasing a shared futon and equally dividing room space. It’s the only way to truly live and will hopefully keep your dorm room clean and quiet. There is studying to do.

When you believe that you are finally ready to lose the training wheels and leave the dorm room, consider your options carefully.

Most likely, as a newly independent sophomore, there will be two options: college-owned housing or an apartment that either is far too small or far too expensive. 

In my case, I chose a modest one-bedroom apartment owned by the college. If you or a student close to you chooses to go this route, I recommend bringing with you basic maintenance skills and a pair of ear muffs. Your apartment will most likely have a maintenance team or RA’s, but they may not always be available when you need them.

Repairs, mostly a broken toilet in my case, were infrequent but always urgent, often scored by the soundtrack of a next-door neighbor who is an obsessive electric guitar player. Given the choice between repairing a toilet in silence or to the soundtrack of “Sweet Child of Mine” on repeat, I liked to choose silence. You or your student should come to the apartment with a standard set of wrenches, a screwdriver and a plunger.

You, of course, will need apartment furniture in a college town. It pays off to look at local Facebook groups at the beginning or end of semester. Graduating students or community members looking to get rid of furniture quickly will be posting it at this time for low prices. Your options will probably range from excellent to fabulously 70s — but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

Students can always choose to be RAs,  which will pay for their room and board at either a dorm or college owned apartment. A furnished dorm room or apartment is often provided along with a meal plan, and in return, you help other students ease into college life. This is a mostly fun option with decent perks, and you will definitely see what not to do in your own college housing on at least one unfortunate room check. 

I will never unsee floors littered with candy wrappers that stick to your feet like fly paper, or a room full of snow because a window was left open.

If you’re like me, at some point you will undoubtedly decide to completely leave college housing and rent like an adult. Don’t be like me and settle for the greenhouse: a converted two story garage, with hallways that suddenly end, unreliable heating and cooling (where it earned its namesake) and lighting wired with electrical cords. 

Spend a little money and be sure to ask to see how things are wired and if there have been water heating issues. Pipes can and will burst through walls.

But most importantly, have fun. You only get this experience once.

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