To Dorm or Not To Dorm: A Guide For the Introverted Freshman
"Where Am I Going to Live When I Go to College?"
As a college freshman in 1996, I was forced by my parents to live in the dorms. There were a few good things about it, such as meeting two or three friends that I really liked to spend time with. However, I really dreaded coming back to the dorm each day because of it way too chaotic and social of an environment for me. I did enjoy socializing from time to time, but in a dorm, you were labeled a "geek" or "nerd" if you preferred to study or keep to yourself most of the time. Many students enjoy living in dorms and they crave the socialization that a dorm can provide, but what do you do if you teenager has misgivings about dorm life?
During my freshman year in the dorms I had a first quarter roommate who liked to stay up later than I did, and another girl made rude comments to me just because I got up early in the morning, so adjusting to a wide mix of personalities is not always easy for the introverted student who prefers more personal time. So if your teenagers is calling home complaining about dorm life, maybe you should consider if this is the best arrangement for him or her.
Dorms can be a useful environment for a freshman because these provide on-site staff, programs, and security systems for the student that is living away from home the first time. Nevertheless, an introverted student will most likely prefer to live in an apartment where he or she will have more time to study and be on their own. Even some of the most social of students grow tired of the 24/7 social stimulus provided by campus dorms. This hub will suggest a few things freshman students can do if they are looking for an alternative living arrangement.
1. Honors' Halls:
I never had the benefit of living on one of these halls, but they are ideal for serious students who need a break from the day to day socialization of non-themed halls. These halls usually have rules about noise levels and programs to helps students with their research and networking skills. Do not think it is all work and no play on these halls because they still have special events like every other hall. When I was a freshman and a sophomore in the dorms we had events such a monthly hall dinners, which gave our individual hall an opportunity to eat something besides dorm food. These invents were catered, usually had a movie, and other fun games to build up the individual "spirit" of the hall. Although I did not really click with the people on my hall freshman year, during my sophmore year we had many fun hall dinners that were actually enjoyable. Also, there are dorm-wide events such as dances, concerts, and competitions, so do not feel your social life will completely wither away if you sign up to be on an honors' hall.
2. Your Own Dorm Room:
This may seem like a no-brainer for the studious college freshman who wants the best of both worlds, but not everyone can afford this route. The benefit of having your own room is the right to close the door for studying and not having to worry about a roommate who wants to always keep the door open. However, you may pay end up paying much more for your own dorm room and a door will not completely shield you from your noisy hall. This may not seem like a problem, unless you are kept up all night by hall-mates having a loud party on the night before a major exam. If your hall is really rowdy and out of control and your parents are willing to help you pay for your own room, then this route may be worth investigating.
3. Campus Apartments and Suites:
This is the ideal situation for the college freshman who is looking for solace at the end of a hard day at work or school. Campus apartments have many social programs such as special dinners, dances, concerts, but the added bonus is you are not expected to socialize with 25-30 people on a constant basis like on a dorm hall. The downside of a campus apartment or suite may be that as a freshman you might have to ask special permission to live here. When I went to my college all freshmen students had to live in the dorms or in off campus apartments, so you should ask your university about its housing policies.
4. Off-Campus Apartments:
The upside is that you have a refuge away from school when you come home. The downside is you may not be surrounded by other students if you live at an apartment complex more than a few miles away from campus. When I went to college my parents finally allowed me to move into an apartment my junior year. I was so happy and I was floating on cloud nine, until I realized that apartments a few miles away were a little cheaper than ones a block or two away from the campus. However, experience has taught me that having an apartment the closest to campus as possible is best because you are in a more secure environment. Off-campus apartments a few blocks away from campus have amenities and security systems that appeal to the college students that are away from home for the first time. Also, some complexes have activities and events, but there will be fewer events then what is found at campus apartments. Also, I noticed in my experience an off-campus apartment a block away from campus was more expensive than an on-campus apartment, so I decided to move into the campus apartments during my senior year. The key to a successful freshman living arrangement is to do your research before you put pay for your first home away from home. Discuss the matter with your teenager. If he or she is introverted please do not assume that they will "adjust" to dorm living because I know for the most part I never did. Years later my mom says she wishes she had let me live an apartment because the dorms were not for me. Let your teenagers take part in the decision making because their first home away from home is a step into adulthood and you want them to feel like they have a say in their adult life. If you do not let them make some of their own choices, they may feel that they have to rely on you later on for other major decisions. On the other hand, you may find your adult teen may decide to branch out and test their freedom by moving out of the dorms if you do not give them a choice, which is what happened with many of my friends. One friend I knew had a mother who refused to let her move out of the dorms, but she did it anyway and her mom finally had to accept her adult daughter was capable of making her own choices. The main point is to discuss living arrangements with your teenagers and to ensure they make their own decisions, even if it may not be always what you want for them. In the end you can give them your advice and support, but going to college and living in a dorm or off campus is ultimately up to your teenager.
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