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Column: Don't be convinced to live on campus for more than two years

February 28, 2019
The third floor of MSU's Phillips Hall which consist of all single rooms on Oct. 2, 2017.
The third floor of MSU's Phillips Hall which consist of all single rooms on Oct. 2, 2017. —
Photo by Carly Geraci | The State News
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Last year, I wrote a column about how much I liked living in a Michigan State dormitory.

I look back on my state of mind when I wrote that column and I chuckle a little bitterly. It’s overly cheerful writing and just dead wrong. Don’t live in the dorms for more than two years if you don’t have to. Don’t do it. It gets to you, like in a horror film. The solemn building exteriors. The long drab hallways. The confinement. You begin to go mad if you stay cooped up there for too long.

I’m being facetious, of course. Here’s the serious matter at hand: MSU recommends its students to live on campus for two or more years. 

Students have a higher shot of obtaining better grades and maintaining their schedules this way, according to MSU LiveOn. In my own experience, that’s admittedly true – this is my third year living on campus and I’m thriving academics-wise.

But it’s absurd to assume each student gets the same benefits from this arrangement. We learn, work and interact socially at entirely different levels. It’s important that each student lives in a space where they can do that at a comfortable pace.

Case in point: I followed LiveOn’s suggestion to stay on campus for two or more years. The result was me, reluctantly handing over far too many sweet, sweet buckaroos for meal plans and dank boxy rooms I dressed up so as not to give the impression I lived in a prison cell. 

I wax exaggeratory, but here’s the gist: I lived in Hubbard Hall as a freshman and in Campbell Hall as a sophomore. Both were perfectly adequate living experiences. Yes, sometimes my suitemates would let our shared bathroom fester because they hadn’t cleaned it. That was gross. 

It was chill the rest of the time. Hubbard Hall is far from Grand River, but two bus lines run out there so you’re not left stranded. Campbell Hall — where I lived last year and now — is just a short walk from my workplace, Grand River Avenue and the Union. I don’t have to go far to do my job, stuff my face or study. 

You don’t get much of a balanced perspective when deciding whether or not to live on campus. On one hand, you’re told living on campus is necessary because the guaranteed proximity to classes, dining options and academic resources are too beneficial to pass up. On the other hand, living off-campus in an apartment or house is often said to be cheaper. You have more freedom to make your own meals, select your roommates and travel as you wish.

Here’s friendly, take-it-as-you-so-please advice from the student who’s lived in a dorm for three years and sure would like to move off-campus for her fourth.

Live in a dorm your freshman year (MSU does require it). If you feel confined, then do as Jordan Peele writes and get out. Find friends and an apartment for your sophomore year. 

If you’re hesitant about moving off campus, live in a different dorm in an opposite neighborhood as a sophomore. Another year will cement a person’s decision to live on or off-campus for the next two years.

If you find you like the dorm set-up, nothing is stopping you from living there as an upperclassman. If you loathe it, then it’s time to start searching for apartment leases or other housing availability. 

I’ll leave you with this. Dormitory-style rooms are a key part of the infrastructure of monasteries. Monks live in small, secluded rooms in order to retain a sense of isolation and meditate upon their studies. Younger students might benefit from a year of this type of living because it instills in them how to prepare for their education, the reason they’re here in the first place.

Last but not least, know that both MSU and numerous apartment companies in the Lansing area are interested in your money. They’ll use lip service to get it, so thoroughly think it over before you commit to either living situation.

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