Looking back at my own college career, I most fondly recall the overall “college experience.” Not just one thing, but the feeling that was created from the culmination of all my new experiences mixed together. I got to live on my own for the very first time and learn how to balance fun with responsibility. I was introduced to a whole new social life, new rules, and a new sense of obligation to myself in addition to living up to what I perceived as my parents’ expectation of me.
If you have a soon-to-be college kid in your household, he or she will have many choices to make, particularly if they’re planning to attend a regional or small community college rather than being in a traditional campus setting. The decision to get a “big school” education more affordably at a regional campus can still contribute to your son or daughter getting that “total college experience” while learning some important life lessons.
The opportunities for growth that exist for your kids during their college years are so different that those while living under your roof in high school or even afterwards. For their sake and your own, getting your student out of your house and offering them the whole experience is something that will promote their academic success as well as their successful and happy transformation into adulthood.
When a student attending a non-traditional campus lives away from their parents’ home and has the means to access vital resources such as the library, faculty, academic support centers, campus health and counseling centers as well as career services, it increases the overall experience. According to The Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, living on or near campus boasts a higher GPA by up to half a letter grade. Numerous studies done by departments of residence across the country find that closer proximity to campus promotes higher retention and graduation rates.
Dorm life is great, but newer alternatives at regional schools such as student housing adjacent to campus can offer even more, and present options that closely resemble that of a traditional college experience. Newer facilities with better amenities built specifically with the college student in mind can promote academic achievements with study rooms, quieter, more private space and activities that promote healthy study breaks while also giving students much-needed social interaction. According to College Parents of America, students living in apartments are presented with unique responsibilities such as paying monthly bills, learning to shop and prepare food for themselves and keep their living space clean. Apartment living, even with Mom and Dad’s help, can establish a rental history, which is linked to beginning a strong credit rating for the future.
Research across campuses in the U.S. suggests that living in student apartments rather than a dormitory can be more economical. Of course, both options save dollars when compared to housing far away from a regional campus in terms of commute costs, but the extra added advantage of being able to have roommates in an apartment can offer significant savings. In many cases, a meal plan coupled with the flat cost of living in a dorm can be more expensive than renting an apartment with a student providing his or her own food.
When it’s time to begin looking at regional college housing options, be proactive. Compare costs and amenities across the board. Finding the right mix for your soon-to-be college kids will ultimately keep them happy and productive – and hopefully out of your basement for good.
Kyle Bach is CEO of Annex Student Living, a developer of student-housing projects across the Midwest. The Annex portfolio is projected to grow in excess of $150 million by 2016. Bach earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.