Students share their reasons for living off-campus

The housing process is known to be one of the more stressful times for students at Colby College. Despite guaranteed housing by the College, students are still left scrambling, conspiring with friends, and searching to find backup plans to their backup plans. While most students are stressing over room draw, a few select students decide to skip all the drama and take advantage of off-campus housing opportunities. 

The students who choose this option will be thrust into an environment similar to the one they will face after college.  They will have to learn to cook for themselves and figure out transportation to and from campus.  So, with housing on campus guaranteed and the Alfond Apartments just a short walk from class, why do these students elect to live off campus?

Leigh Mathieu ’16 is one of the students who chose to live off-campus this year. She currently lives with two of her friends in an apartment on Johnston Heights.  When asked why she initially chose to live off campus, she said, “I wanted to live with two other people, and there aren’t many options for triples on campus. I also really wanted an apartment after coming back from abroad, where I lived on my own.”

For students like Mathieu, an off-campus apartment is both cost-efficient, and a great way to try and live with friends without relying on getting a senior apartment or a good room draw pick.  Rebecca Gray ’17 has decided to take advantage of an off-campus apartment as well.  Her reasoning is similar to that of Mathieu. “As an underclassman, I had never actually wanted to live off campus. I always assumed I’d go for one of the apartments or a suite my senior year. Meanwhile, one of my best friends had been wanting to live off campus for a long time—last year, she kind of assembled a group of us that were interested in living together, and from there convinced us that living off campus could be really fun and cost-efficient,” Gray said.

While living off-campus acts as a substitute for the Alfond Apartments for seniors, it can also provide juniors and sophomores with the opportunity to live in an apartment. “I just want a kitchen,” Grant Alenson ’18 said.

Living in an off-campus apartment has many benefits. In addition to being cost-efficient, off-campus housing also allows students the opportunity to escape from campus each night. At a college with such a small campus, students can often feel trapped. Getting away from campus each night allows for a nice decompression period.  According to Mathieu, this was one of the things she enjoyed most this past year. “It’s [been] really nice to get away from the bubble of Colby and feel like a real person. I’ve become so much more self-sufficient—I can cook, maintain a house, clean, etc. There’s also so much more space: not only do I have a spacious bedroom, but we also have a living room and dining room. Logistically you save a lot of money and avoid the burdens of living on campus, such as dorm damage,” she said.

Despite the many benefits of living off-campus, there are some complications as well.  The troubles of having to cook, clean, and pay rent are often new to these students. Figuring out transportation to and from campus can often be a hassle, especially on the weekends.  However, Mathieu has some advice for how to handle the transportation issue, “You definitely need a car. Sometimes it can be difficult to get home if you’ve been drinking on campus. That being said, coordination with roommates, the jitney, and cheap cabs have made this really easy to figure out,” she said.

The challenges off-campus students face are not endless.  In fact, the issues are simply something every student will have to face after graduation.  Though it may not be for everyone, off-campus housing is a great transition into the real world and students like Mathieu have nothing but good things to say about it. When asked if she would recommend off-campus housing to other students, Mathieu said, “Do it! So many people I’ve talked to want to be able to cook, and let’s face it, not everyone gets apartments. It’s a great way to better prepare yourself for post-grad life while also enjoying Colby.”

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