Part of the “going off to college” experience is living in a dorm room on campus. Having a roommate, decorating and making Easy-Mac in the microwave might work for some students, but others may require more space to spread their wings.
MSU requires freshman students to live on campus, but after the first year, students are free to move off campus into an apartment, house or co-op. Students can continue living on campus — or they can round up some pals to lease an apartment or house in one of the many East Lansing neighborhoods close to campus.
Every student has their own journey. However, living off campus presents new challenges for students to experience.
Social relations and policy sophomore Lucas Sliwinski lived on campus for his freshman year and then moved off to join a co-op.
“My cousin lived in a co-op and going with her to different events they would host, I thought it was a cool environment to live in,” Sliwinski said. “I thought it would be better than living in a dorm for me personally.”
Like many students, Sliwinski sought out more independence when he moved out of the dorms to live off campus.
“I definitely feel even more independent than living in the dorms. I felt so much independence being on my own already in college, and now having a place I’m living in with other people, I feel more independent, more ‘adult,’” Sliwinski said.
However, having more independence made Sliwinski consider the pros and cons of moving off campus.
“I walk everywhere. I definitely have to plan more in advance to get out and walk the extra distance to campus,” Sliwinski said.
Art education junior Paris Dion Conquest also had her struggles with not living right near MSU.
“I have noticed that I am not as involved with things on campus. I used to go to campus events every week and now I barely ever go,” Conquest said. Going to class is more of a chore because I’m so far off.”
Conquest struggles with the everyday tasks of washing dishes and preparing meals, but she enjoys her newfound ability to focus more efficiently since moving of campus.
She also had other circumstances to consider in her decision to move off campus.
“I have a dog, so I really had to figure out what places were pet-friendly,” Conquest said. “Also, rent price. Everything right off of campus is super expensive, so I’m a little farther out. They gave me a free bus pass, so I was all for that.”
On-campus living can be an opportunity for students to have the “college experience,” but for some students, life in the dorms can feel like close quarters.
“I had a lot of roommates in very small living spaces and with that it just created a lot of tension between people,” said prenursing sophomore Haley Lyell. “It caused me a lot of stress and I didn’t have my own space to breathe.”
Lyell had some adjustments to make, but the decision to move off campus as a sophomore turned out to be worth it for her.
“I like being able to make my own meals and regulating my life at the pace that I want it to be,” Lyell said.
Off-campus students have some advice for others who are considering following in their footsteps.
“Explore your options because there are so many different places to live. Explore them all and pick the one that best suits you,” Sliwinski said.
“Go to class! Find people you’re happy living with,” Conquest said. “Read your contract because so many places will try and screw you over.”
“Make sure when you prioritize the money — which I know is important to a lot of people — you really think about how much you’re spending in a dorm, because you pay a lot of money to live there that you don’t really realize,” Lyell said. “Just make sure it’s something you’re ready to do.”