It’s phenomenal how different the experience of college can be depending on the living situations of students. I have been living on campus my entire experience at Valpo and while it has been pretty challenging, I am greatly fulfilled with my experience and how it has made me adapt to living on my own.
When it comes to living in dorms as freshmen, commuters don’t know what it's like to share a small room with someone, especially if it's a student you were randomly assigned to, like I was. Living in Brandt during my freshman year and sharing a space with a bunch of people who were my age was a little bit odd at first.
When I went into my first year at college, I wasn’t worried about living in a dorm by myself. However, freshman dorms turned out to have more challenges than I thought. I remember trying to decide on the dorm I wanted to live in the summer before my freshman year and ended up choosing Brandt because it seemed like the nicest dorm. However, I would come to regret my decision after realizing that the beds were too high, and not having a sink in your room comes with more issues than I originally thought. It was such a pain to have to walk all the way down the hall to do simple things like washing your hands or dishes because Brandt didn’t have sinks in their rooms. When it came to air conditioning, I also didn’t think that the absence of it would make much of a difference, but I was shockingly surprised at how awfully hot or cold the room would get. These were just a few of the many things I should’ve prepared myself for when going into my freshman year, but overall it was still a fun learning experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The positive aspects of living on campus far outweigh the cons. When students live on campus, they feel more connected and comfortable with their peers and the school in itself, because it gives more of a home feel than just a place where you go to learn. For example, students are able to stay up to date with activities and events going on around campus, because flyers with information on these events are held on each floor of every dorm as well as the first floor. The Resident Assistants (RAs) also host dorm events every so often that can help students bond with other suitemates. Living on my own also changed me as a person and helped increase my maturity by forcing me to make decisions on my own, take care of myself and create self-motivation, instead of looking for my family’s validation.
Lets just say that the difference between living in dorms from freshman to sophomore year is incomparable. Going from living in Brandt to Guild Memorial Hall felt so invigorating. I have also noticed that after each year, the living experience has only gone up. I live in Beacon as a junior now, and am completely blown away by how phenomenal and upscale the lounges, kitchens, utilities and dorm rooms are.
Commuters, on the other hand, never get to know what it's like to live in a dorm on campus and have only experienced being at school for a few classes and then going to the union for lunch, the bookstore, cafe, etc. I have also never had a car on campus and have only walked or cycled everywhere. Walking from class to class has helped me build familiarity with the campus itself. Commuters however, only drive to and from school.
The difference between commuter and on-campus students is pretty astronomical, and I am pretty confident in my decision to live on campus, as it has helped shape my college experience so far.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.