With off-campus housing options like The View at Montgomery, University Village and Oxford Village available to students of all ages, first-year students are opting out of living in Temple’s residence halls. However, freshmen moving straight into off-campus apartments should consider the long-term consequences.
Living in 1300 Residence Hall during my first year was one of the best decisions I could have made for my college career. The majority of the friends I have today are people I met my freshman year in the southeast wing of 1300’s second floor. In fact, most of us met via the open-door policy. Had I not lived in a residence hall, chances are I wouldn’t have met the people I am fortunate to call my closest friends today. Residence halls are ideal for first-years because everyone is starting fresh.
Mike Fischer, a junior film major, lived in Hardwick Hall his freshman year, Morgan Hall North his sophomore year and is currently residing in The View at Montgomery.
The most important thing for freshmen is to meet people, Fischer said.
“If you get homesick, who would you turn to?” he said. “You would turn to your friends, but where are your friends? They’re off at other schools, too. So, you need to find new friends.”
And meeting lifelong friends in residence halls isn’t unheard of – in fact, it’s quite common.
“My best friend now and the girl I’ve lived with the past two years was my neighbor in 1940 [Residence Hall],” Alexis Fullman, a junior biology major said.
Quite similarly, Fischer is currently living with a friend he met and lived with last year in Morgan. And believe it or not, that’s how my boyfriend and I met, too – on the 12th floor of Morgan North.
Allison Macolino, a junior tourism and hospitality management major, is beginning her second year as a Resident Assistant of a co-ed floor of freshmen in 1940. After living in Johnson and Hardwick Residence Halls her freshman year, and observing a floor of freshmen throughout her sophomore year as an RA, Macolino said she believes the residence hall experience is essential to a student’s development.
“There should be a step in between home and the real world,” Macolino said, “and [living in a residence hall] kind of gives them that step that they need.”
“You don’t have the bills and rent that you have with an apartment, and if anything ever goes wrong there is someone to help you,” Fullman said.
Living in a residence hall gives the student a chance to meet people through programs set up by Residential Life.
Sean Killion, associate director of student services in the Office of Housing and Residential Life, said he thinks that students have more than enough time to consider living off-campus in their sophomore, junior and senior year.
“A student’s first year is very critical for their long-term success,” Killion said. “And our view is that getting them situated and settled first is the best thing for them.”
Fullman, however, doesn’t think that living in a residence hall teaches students anything that they couldn’t learn on their own off campus.
“What [living in a residence hall] does, though, is group people of the same age group together making the experience more enjoyable,” Fullman said. “You are with people who are new just like you and don’t know anyone either so it helps to know you aren’t going through the transition alone.”
Killion emphasized the importance of a student’s first semester here.
“Our department is structured in a way that really helps students with the transition process from high school to college,” he said.
For the most part, off-campus apartments don’t offer the same social opportunities that residence halls do. Apartment complexes close to campus are predominantly occupied by upperclassmen, who have moved past the “let’s make new friends” mindset and are more career-driven.
“Freshmen in the residence halls seem to be really social since they don’t have any major friends established yet,” Fullman said. “And I’ve noticed the older you are, the more established your friends are even if you just met them. Therefore, you just kind of want to be left alone.”
Residence halls strive to create a sense of community. Fischer believes that they, especially ones like Hardwick with its communal bathrooms, “bring a sense of unity and a better opportunity of meeting people.”
“In the residence halls, there is moral and mental support from your RA,” Fullman said. “Plus, they teach and tell you where things are and how to handle things.”
Freshmen may think signing a lease to an apartment gets them out of the policies that come along with a residence hall, but in essence they’re signing up for more responsibilities – ones they may not be ready to handle yet.
Chelsea Rovnan firstname.lastname@example.org