OPINION | Off-campus student living creates shift in personal priorities

Casey Wade, Staff Writer

(Emma Clark Luster)

By junior year, gone are the safe and predictable days of dorm showers, resident advisor, hallway neighbors and Commons breakfast.

At Tulane University, a majority of first- and second-year students are required to live on campus. So before junior year, many students move out of the dorms and start a new chapter as home or apartment renters. 

Moving off-campus presents a new set of challenges and opportunities. Maintaining a home creates responsibilities that many Tulane students have never had to worry about in the past. 

Students have to decide where their priorities lie once they are in their home. Is it more cost-effective to pay for a Tulane meal plan or to budget your own groceries? How will your roommates divide up rent and utilities? Is your house within walking distance of campus or do you need to ride a bike to class? These are just a couple of the decisions students need to consider when living off-campus. 

These newfound responsibilities do not go unnoticed by students. The obligations pile up and roommates must create a system to keep up with their home. Some of these new responsibilities include upkeep of appliances, cleaning, yard work, paying rent and generally maintaining a stricter budget. 

Junior Olivia Barnes said, “Once you move off campus, there are a lot more responsibilities. I have to budget more efficiently because I don’t have a meal plan anymore, I have to pay rent and utilities and I have to do more house upkeep without weekly cleanings from Tulane staff.”

This newfound financial responsibility can be a stressor for students, but ultimately, it provides essential life experience. Once students have dealt with the initial stress of moving in, they can appreciate the skills one learns from renting a home. 

Junior Elyse Rice describes this appreciation. She said, “Moving off campus can be generally stressful at first, but I am grateful that it is a part of the Tulane junior experience. I feel like I have developed a lot of real-life skills from keeping up my house, paying rent and sorting out the electricity at my house. I know I am going to need these skills past my time at Tulane.” 

Furthermore, living off-campus provides a number of opportunities for students to advance their personal development. Students are given a newfound sense of freedom and some extended privacy from roommates that many may not have been afforded in dorms. Students can make a home of their own and enjoy a taste of adulthood. 

Off-campus living also allows students to feel more connected to the New Orleans community. Junior Jordan Levine says, “I feel like I am more involved in the city rather than just school now that I live off campus. Now, I attend more events in the city like concerts. I have also gotten to know my neighbors who are native New Orleanians, and it has been nice to get to know people who are outside of the Tulane community.” 

While moving off-campus may result in a whole new set of living circumstances, roommate squabbles and arguments with the landlord, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for students to become more immersed in the New Orleans community as well as learn real-life skills from the responsibility of renting a home. The physical move from on to off-campus living reflects also a shift in one’s independence. 

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