Even though millions of high school seniors are already anticipating the day they can move into their first dorm room, a lot of college students live off-campus. Some are part-time non-traditional students with careers and their own families, but others are traditional-aged college students that simply choose to live at home with their parents to cut costs.
Living on campus definitely has its perks—like showing up for class in your pajamas two minutes before the professor arrives—but it is possible to live off-campus and still have a fulfilling college experience.
Here are 10 helpful suggestions that will come in handy if you’re a student that lives off-campus but is itching to get more involved at school.
1. Join an organization. A quick and easy way to meet people on campus is to join an organization. Most large universities have dozens if not hundreds of groups for students to choose from, but even the tiniest community colleges have some sort of clubs where students can interact with one another.
2. Create a study group. If you honestly can’t find an official college organization that interests you, create a study group. You can hang out with other students from your classes, tackle the information that was covered in class and make some new friends in the process.
3. Make friends with residents and other commuters. Most colleges have commuter lounges or other designated areas for students that live off-campus to congregate between classes, so it’s tempting to only make friends with other commuters. Make friends with residents, too—it will give you an excuse to spend more time on campus!
4. Spend time with friends that live in dorms. Speaking of making friends that live on campus, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with friends in their dorm rooms. If you’ve been considering moving on-campus next semester or next year, it will let you get a feel for real dorm life, which might be a lot different than you imagine.
5. Eat a few meals in campus dining halls. You don’t have to brown bag it or head to McDonald’s every day! Go to lunch or dinner with friends that live on campus. Campus dining halls aren’t exclusively for residents; people are allowed to pay cash for meals.
6. Take advantage of the campus fitness center. Avoid the freshman fifteen and hit the treadmill at your college’s gym. It will give you a chance to work up a sweat, spend time at school and possibly make some new friends.
7. Make the most of time between classes. It might make sense to drive home if your first class is at 8 AM class and your second meets at 6 PM, but if you only have an hour or two between classes, make the most of your time. Go to the library, visit the study center or catch up on some reading that you haven’t yet accomplished.
8. Get a job on campus. If you’re in need of a part-time job, look for one on campus. Not only will you meet new people and spend more time at school, you won’t have to drive to work if you were on campus for class anyway.
9. Leave for school on time. Give yourself plenty of time to drive to school. Factor in enough time for finding a parking space and then walking to class from your car.
10. Perform routine auto maintenance. Breaking down on the side of the road isn’t fun, especially if it means you’ll be missing an exam that counts for twenty percent of your grade. Keep your car in good shape by getting regular tune-ups and have the oil changed on schedule. Check your gas gauge before leaving for school, too!
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.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.