For Florida A&M University students, making the transition from the dormitories to off-campus apartments seems to be exciting yet challenging.
“I adjusted pretty quickly because I have wanted to stay in my own apartment since last year,” said Jasmine Turner, a sophomore general studies student.
The 19-year-old from Miami said moving into an apartment has caused her to make some changes to her daily routine.
“I have to wake up earlier because I have to get to campus before all of the parking spaces are taken,”” Turner said.
Alicia Carter, a junior history education student from Raleigh, N.C., said she has faced a similar challenge.
“It was easier living on campus because I could leave a few minutes before my classes and still get to them on time,” Carter said. “Now I have to manage my time better so I can get a parking spot on, or at least near the campus.”
Time management is just one of the challenges that students living on their own have to face. They must also learn to manage their own finances.
“Students need to plan better and learn how to budget for themselves,” said Liz Harper, assistant property manager at College Club Apartments. “They should divide up their money for rent before spending it on the latest clothing trends or accessorizing their cars.”
Carter, 20, said she has taken steps toward becoming financially responsible.
“I stay aware of the amount of money I have so that there is enough to pay my rent and take care of emergencies such as car repairs.”
Despite the fact that living off campus can be difficult, some students have found it beneficial.
Crystal Pearson, a freshman physical education student, said that living in an apartment has enabled her to stay focused on her studies.
“It is good for me because at times I can be easily distracted,” said the 20-year-old from Miami.
“When you live on campus, all your friends know where you live. Off campus, you do not have to worry about surprise guests. People do not know where you live unless you tell them.”
Oscar Crumity, FAMU’s interim housing director, disagreed.
“The freshman specifically should acclimatize to the college environment by living on campus because we provide them the opportunity to avoid distractions that they may not be accustomed to,” he said.”In reality, each student is here for an education, and those students living in on-campus facilities have a better opportunity to focus on their academic development and achievements.”
Although apartment managers welcome incoming freshman, they are concerned that the students are not prepared for the responsibilities of living on their own.
“I think the freshman should live on campus,” Harper said. “A lot of them are coming straight from their parents homes, and do not know how to live on their own without some sort of structure.”
Bill Bowers, property manager at University Courtyard Apartments, agreed.
“I think living in an off-campus apartment is too much to handle for someone who is in his or her first year of college,” he said. “They already have enough changes and adjustments to make without worrying about the responsibilities that come with living off campus.”
Whether they live on or off campus, having a social life is a major factor in their adjustment.
“The best way to adjust to anything is to maintain social relationships. Students really need to have an active social life,” Bowers said.
Some students who live off campus miss the social environment that is readily available to those who reside in the dormitories.
“There are days when you just want to go out in the hallway and hang-out with the girls, but you cannot because you live off campus,” Pearson said.
Turner said she misses being able to participate in activities such as the step shows, fashion shows and barbeques.
“I miss knowing what is happening on campus. Living off campus, I hardly ever know when or where the events are taking place.”
Contact Mika Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org