Going off to college is one of the most eagerly anticipated times in a young person’s life, but there’s also a lot to be said for living at home while going to school. You might catch yourself feeling envious of your friends’ dorm rooms every now and then, but remind yourself that they’re paying dearly for those cramped quarters and pesky roommates. Here are some of the best aspects of living at home during college.
Just as graduating from elementary school and going to middle school can be somewhat stressful for children, transitioning from high school to college is tough for a lot of people. The days of sitting in class for six or seven hours straight Monday through Friday are over—you may have one class one day and four the next. You’ll be able to select your own course of study, and depending on the size of your classes, your professors may never even learn your name. Living at home while all of these changes are going on in your life will leave one thing constant.
Dorm life isn’t luxurious, but it sure has an exorbitant price tag attached! Housing fees, which often include a mandatory meal plan even if you don’t plan on eating in the cafeterias, can be steep. Prices vary from school to school, but an annual U.S. News survey found that average room and board fees for the 2012-13 school year were over $9,000 with costs in the $15,000 range for the priciest dorms in the country. (And don’t forget, you don’t even live on campus during the breaks between semesters!)
At many schools, freshmen who live on campus are not allowed to have cars and must rely on bicycles, shuttles, and their own two feet for transportation. Opting to be a commuter student means you’ll have your own vehicle and the ability to come and go on your own schedule, not the bus schedule.
Food isn’t cheap. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of coffee at the grocery store in January 2013 was $5.90 while a gallon of milk averaged $3.52. Sure, that’s less than hitting Starbucks everyday, sure, but far from being inexpensive. If you decide to live at home during college, there’s a good chance your parents will be the ones paying for the groceries. They may ask you to chip in occasionally or pay for extravagant items that you and you alone request, but your grocery bill will be incredibly low. Home cooked meals are also nonexistent on college campuses unless you count Easy Mac mixed with canned tuna, but you’ll be able to enjoy them at home on a regular basis.
Financial assistance from your parents is definitely something to be grateful for, but emotional support and encouragement is just as important—especially if you are the first member of your immediate family to go to college. According to First in the Family, first-generation college students often face hurdles like culture shock and feelings of intimidation. Living at home and receiving regular support from your parents and siblings can help make things easier, regardless of whether or not your family members also went to college.
Dorms and off-campus student apartments have a tendency to be hectic and noisy. Even if quiet hours are enforced after a certain time each weeknight, the comings and goings of other people can be disruptive. If you prefer to study in your own surroundings rather than the library or a coffee shop, you might be out of luck if you have roommates or suitemates. Your room at home might be a much better place to hit the books.
Even though the changes associated with college can be exciting, homesickness strikes most college students at some point. Psychology Today explains that first semester freshmen experience homesickness because life transitions are tough! Bring your campus friends to your house every now and then to meet your family, have dinner, and sit back and relax. They’ll most likely appreciate that feeling of “going home.”
One final benefit to staying with the ‘rents even though you’re working toward a degree and preparing to enter the Real World—whatever that is—is the simple fact that you can use them as an excuse and they probably won’t even mind. Don’t feel like going to parties or getting wasted at the clubs? “Sorry, I can’t because I told my parents I’d be home early!” can help you say no easily.
Even though living at home during college is becoming more common, mainly for financial reasons, it can start to feel a bit strange when your friends are able to come and go as they please yet you are answering to Mom and Dad. It’s a good idea to sit down with your parents and discuss the situation. Will you have a curfew? Should you call home and let your parents know where you’ll be? If you have a part-time job, will you be expected to contribute to household expenses? Communicate regularly with your family members to help ensure everyone has the same expectations.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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