The Case for Staying in on Grounds Housing

What are you looking for in where you will live?  The allure of having your own apartment out in town and “being on your own” for the first time is an exciting prospect.  For some people that allure leads them down the path of making decisions that don’t positively contribute to their academic success or that it fact distract them from being able to focus enough time and attention on the real reason that they are here.  Fortunately, with the type of choices and options available in on Grounds Housing, that’s not an either/or choice.  There are also many apartment style options on Grounds.

Let’s look at some decision points:

1) Leases:  Do you really want/need a 12 month lease?  Do you want to be responsible for the rent of the whole apartment with a group?  What do you do if you end up not being able to get along with all of the group in your apartment? If you take over a lease (in order to get in a prime spot) what damage/liability are you assuming from the previous tenants?  If your plans change and you decide not to stay in school here or you get the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program what options does your lease give you to make that choice?

On Grounds, the lease term is 9 months, you are automatically released if you are no longer enrolled or if you participate in a study abroad opportunity.  If things change in your group and you change your mind about who you want to live with, you can change rooms to any vacant space in the system, at almost any time.  If someone in your apartment leaves, you are not responsible for their portion of the rent – you are just responsible for yourself…

No matter how solid your group might seem at the time you sign a lease – particularly if you have just met this fall and have only known each other for a few weeks, things change, plans change….  You will make a lot of changes between now and when you move in next August.  Signing an off Grounds lease now is a calculated risk.  You are counting on a lot of things that you don’t control to stay the way you expect them.

Will you need to sublet the space during the summer or can you afford to pay the rent even if you are at home and not here?  There are far more people looking to sublet their apartments in the summer than there are people looking for places to stay.  Once you’re gone, it’s still your name on the lease – subletting doesn’t change or limit your responsibility. If the person you sublet to is a slob, or has their 6 best friends crash with them, you are still financially responsible for any damage they cause.  If a roommate goes home and doesnt’ return to school -and doesn’t feel obligated to keep sending you their portion of the rent, what do you do?  If you don’t want to worry about those kinds of things and just want to focus on your academic program – maybe you should stay on Grounds.

2) Cost – What is the real and total cost of living off Grounds v. living on Grounds.  On Grounds, that’s easy to calculate.  You are billed once a semester through your University account.  Your utilities and other basic costs are included in the rent.  You know what the cost is for parking also.  You can get back and forth to class easily using the UTS bus service.  You can find apartments off grounds that are some times less expensive than the cost of on Grounds housing, but most places cost more.  You also have to plan to pay that cost for 12 months instead of 9.  Parking can be very expensive -and very limited off grounds.  On Grounds you don’t need to pay deposits for anything.  Off Grounds it’s likely that whatever you pay in deposits will never come back to you… depending on the property management company or owner you rent from.

3) Service – On Grounds, most work orders are completed within hours.  You also have peers that are members of the resident staff and the professional in the Housing Division and the Dean of Students Office to help advise you and work with you on any issues that come up – in any part of your life.  On Grounds, the entire network of services has been created to support your success.  You lose much of that when you move off Grounds.  Off Grounds, the University’s reach and influence is limited.

4) Convenience and simplicity – Not worrying about how to pay the bills each month, not having to worry about paying the rent for missing roommates, bus service, personal support services – all of the things listed above really do add up when you are trying to focus on your course work and other involvements.  We try to keep those things from adding up so that they get in the way of your success.

5) Safety and Security – On Grounds housing is consistently rated by students as being a very safe and comfortable place to live.  All of the other people living with you are students.  That really can be a big issue.  The locks are changed whenever a key is lost.  Access control is a serious concern.  The University police are close by and easily called using the network of blue phones on grounds…  Student Council and the University tour grounds every year looking at lighting and safety issues…..

6) Community – The staff on Grounds works hard to develop a healthy and productive living environment.  I read the applications of students applying to move into some of our focused communities – a common theme is that after students moved off, they realized that they missed the “community” in on Grounds housing.    This is probably the last time in your life where you can choose to live in a community where all the services are designed specifically to promote your personal and academic success and growth…. Don’t be in such a rush to leave that…

7) Programs – Closely related to community is the range of options for targeted programs set up in learning communities throughout grounds.  There are three residential colleges – Hereford College is focused on Sustainability/green living kinds of issus,  The International Residential College is focused on global issues and study abroad and exchange programs, and Brown College is focused on personal creativity.  All have welcoming and inclusive communities.  There are 10 Language House programs that provide an immersion experience to help you prepare for study abroad opportunities and/or to help you really develop your language skills.  The Language groups include: German, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Hindi/Urdu, Persian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.   There also is an active program for transfer students in upperclass housing.

8) Single Rooms – For those of you who just want to focus on your own life and concerns and who don’t want to have to be a part of a group, there are single rooms in on Grounds Housing that don’t require that you have a group together to sign a lease….

You have the rest of your life to live on your own, you can ease into it by living in an on Grounds apartment, or you can wait for that and focus on being where there are natural/automatic connections that will help keep you engaged and focused on your academic program and involvements related to that.

Many times the rush to live off Grounds is simply a wish to be able to have a party lifestyle and believe that by being where there aren’t any RAs to enforce rules, that you can do whatever you want (mostly underage drinking and behavior related to that)..  You need to remember that no matter where you live, your neighbors and landlord will have other ideas about how much they can allow your behavior to have negative impacts on your neighbors or their properties…..  Being responsible is a part of adult life that you can’t pretend doesn’t exist…  There are consequences, either immediate or delayed for everything we do and for the habits we develop.  In our surveys of students -the number of students who are heavy drinkers drops off significantly in upperclass housing – that can also be a good incentive to remain on Grounds (I hope), if you want to stay away from that…… or it means that those students are no longer enrolled.  Either way, if the regular consumption of lots of alcohol does not positvely correlate with better grades or graduation rates for most people..  I hope that your academic success has a high priority for you and is included in your decision making process.



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