In this section we’ll pick up on three lifestyle topics covered in Higher Learning: Food, Housing, and Relationships.
For Food, we defer to Buzzfeed for the win. This is an excellent mix of easy steps you can take to save money and time, and reduce the risk of serious health issues that could impact you right away or further down the line.
When it comes to campus housing, you may have a number of options to consider, depending on your college. There could be different dormitory types, different kinds of rooms and numbers of roommates, different sides of campus, off campus options, and more. As with anything, you want to get as much information as possible and weigh all of options. Here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
Do I want to live with my friends? Will we still be friends if we live together?
Do I really want to live that far off campus?
Vision. Spend time thinking big: How can your organization be the best?
Do I know all of the hidden costs of living off campus? Yes, it may seem like a better deal at first, until factoring in utilities (water, electricity, heat, cable/internet), security deposit, first and last month’s rent up front, furniture, etc. And what will become of the furniture that I buy for this off campus apartment when I graduate and take a job across the country?
Is living with my significant other the best idea? Will we have to keep it a secret from our parents (and how will we actually do that)? What will we do if we break up? (Having to find a new place to live during midterms is NOT ideal).
Do I really want tolive by myself?
Do I want to save money by becoming an RA (Resident Advisor) potentially getting free or reduced rent, and maybe also a meal plan too?
Can I sublet my off-campus apartment while I’m away this summer and earn some of my rent money back?
Where can I affordably and safely store my stuff over summer break? (Beware of your friend’s basements.)
Do I want to stay in the same dorm or living-learning program, and maybe move up to a leadership position (program coordinator, floor leader, etc.), or do I want a different experience?
Keep track of important dates such as room retention and housing selection periods, off-campus housing fairs, RA application deadlines, and more. Use campus resources that are available to help you locate off campus housing, settle disputes (among on campus roommates, with off campus landlords, and anything else that may arise), and speak with other students about their living situations so you can get a better understanding of what it would be like if you did something similar. If you’re living on campus in a specific residential program, be active and enjoy the experience. Consider taking on a planning or leadership role, which is not only a resume enhancer but also adds rich value to your time on campus. If you are making the off campus move, there should be a number of opportunities - especially at the end of the school year - to buy cheap used furniture and household items, or sell them when you’ve graduated and are moving on. Whenever you’re in between places - the gap after move-out but before your internship starts, staying the summer on campus, heading back early for the fall term - use your social network for sofas to crash on or rooms to sublet, or look into different campus jobs and volunteer positions that may bundle late move-out, early move-in, or summer housing.
And now, relationships. I covered this a bit in Higher Learning, and there is so much more that could be said. There are numerous schools of thought. You will often hear that college is a time for exploring your options, and that commitment is not the way to go. That makes sense. Unless you really like someone, and you suspect they may like you too. Do you pretend to not like each other? Do you wait it out? Do you then kick yourself when they go public with someone else on Facebook?
What is dating in college? Is that even a thing? When do you learn the principles of establishing a long-term, healthy relationship? When do you discuss how to make long-distance commitments work, as you and your significant other approach graduation with different destinations on deck? What if you actually want to chill after Netflix? What if hook up culture is not your thing? What if it is? There are so many questions. Enough, perhaps, for another book…