The Positive Transition to Off-Campus Living

Leah Gage

While some students seek structure and guidance during college, others crave independence and freedom. The first step most commonly taken by students in the search for independence, is to move off campus.

It is very common for students to begin their college adventure as freshmen living in the dorms on campus. Carrie Giese, program coordinator for Student Assistance, says its a great platform to begin with.

Dorms provide support and immediate assistance through a resident assistant for the transition from living at home to living essentially with strangers.

Living in a dorm is a great way for students to develop and shape their social, problem solving and teamwork skills before transitioning to off campus living, which is an ideal time to put them to use and define them.

“When a student lives off campus, there’s no one there making rounds, making sure they’re behaving appropriately or making sure their bills are paid on time,” Guise said. “This is a great time for a student to develop their own individual ethics.”

On top of individual ethics, Guise pointed out the importance of developing time management, self-accountability and good people skills. Off campus, no one tells the student that they need to study or that rent is due, it’s all up to them.

There are no structured “icebreakers” to get a student talking with other students they are living near. Students living off campus can then expand their comfort zone and begin networking on their own, skills that will be needed long after their time at Iowa State.

However, Ryann Johnson, assistant community manager at South Duff Community Park Apartments, said transitioning to life on their own is not always an easy task for students.

“It might take a few months to get used to doing everything on their own, but that’s pretty normal,” Johnson said. “Often times, we’ll get calls from parents whose students have questions but aren’t comfortable doing things on their own yet, so it’s kind of that process for them.”

For some students, there is a fear when it comes to moving off campus that they are going to be completely on their own, but that is not true.

Guise and the Student Assistance Office are available to students living off campus for support, guidance, and to answer any questions students may have as a stepping stone toward complete independence.

For Matt Decker, junior in construction engineering, moving off campus was a perfect fit. Moving into a more spacious townhome gave him the freedom he was looking for while still providing stability and structure.

“I like to cook and be able to make my own meals, so living in the dorms just wasn’t feasible for me,” Decker said.

Some students might fear that moving away from campus will disconnect them from campus life, but for Decker, moving off campus has created a stronger connection and is something more people should consider.

“I actually moved farther away from campus so that I could be on campus all day,” Decker said. “I bring everything that I need for the day with me and just spend the entire day there.”