Whether it’s 30 miles or 300 miles, living away from home for the first time can be a frightening experience. However, living away from home isn’t quite the same as living on your own. For many college students, the experience of living away from home for the first time begins on move-in day, when it is time to pack up the bare essentials, such as bedding, clothes, school supplies and toiletries, say goodbye to your parents and somehow create a new home within a shared space. Despite all of the tips and tricks you may hear from experienced fourth-year on-campus residents, living as a freshman in the dorms is something you need to experience firsthand. Out of the 75 percent of students who live on campus their freshman year, each and every one of them will most likely have their own unique, love-hate relationship with college dorm-life.
What’s not to love about living away from home? For a freshman in college, it is almost too easy to associate dorm-life with complete and utter freedom. For some students, not having to live under the watchful eye of their parents translates to not having a curfew, getting to sleep in, eating junk food, skipping classes and binge-watching Netflix. However, the benefits of freedom and independence are all fun and games until it is time to pay that housing fee on your Growl account. Parents who financially support their children through college have high expectations when it comes to academic success. They want to see their hard-earned dollars at work.
There are a growing number of students who not only live on their own, but also work part-time to afford college tuition. The difference between living away from home and living on your own can be best understood as financial independence. In this case, living on your own goes far beyond not having your parents around to help with the cooking, cleaning and daily reminders. Living on your own means paying bills, filing taxes and dealing with insurance companies. Those of us who have yet to learn a simple task such as writing a check are overdue for a rude awakening.
Students who either work part-time or live on their own generally advised living under your parents’ roof for as long as possible. However, we all know that to have freedom from parental guidance there are sacrifices to be made. Tania Hill, a fifth-year political science major, suggested that students should “avoid paying for all individual bills” by carefully selecting apartments that lump together all utility bills, which helps avoid missing due dates and getting slapped with late fees. Coming from a house of seven people and two dogs, “living on my own is great,” says Hill. She acknowledged the fact that there is a direct link between her financial independence and her increase in freedom.
Unfortunately, freedom comes at a price and if you are a student who isn’t paying for your college education with a part-time job or perhaps financial aid, then you better be paying with long hours in the library, good grades and class participation. Parents are not the only ones who remind students of the value or rather the cost of a university education; professors aren’t afraid to caution their students that they get paid whether their students attend class or not.
In the same way that you are paying for your education, you are also paying for that new-found sense of freedom, which is why you cannot forget the sole purpose of attending a university, which is to achieve a form of higher education, and the personal growth that follows suit is simply a bonus.