College Housing, Living (it up) on Your Own

College Living: ACTION ITEM: Find a Place to Live Before Your First Day on Campus

College housing can mean many different things. The daughter of a friend of mine lived in her car, parked in a church parking lot, the first two weeks of her junior year, while waiting for an apartment. She called her mother every night on her cell. It was awhile before her family learned about her choice of college housing.

Two years earlier, my son had slept in the copy room of the Engineering Building at UCSB for several days while waiting for college housing to be available. (He did not plan ahead.)

A suggestion: if you find yourself in this predicament because you didn't plan ahead, you can bathe in the Rec Hall or some similar place.

College Housing For Freshmen-To-Be:

Start thinking about college housing as soon as you apply to the colleges of your choice, look at the schools' policies about applying for on-campus housing.

Some schools guarantee housing for all freshmen, some for freshmen and sophomores, and a few for all four years. At some schools, it is all on a first-come-first-serve basis, while others use a lottery system, or some other innovative method.

With your information about each college to which you applied, keep housing information, costs, deposit information, and web addresses, so you are ready to act when you notify your schools of choice that you are accepting their offer of admission.

Apply for college housing as soon as you can after accepting. (Like the same day.) Most schools will provide you with housing information in your admission packet.

My Advice? Freshman Should Live in the Dorms

The best way to start out in college is to live in the dorms.

  • Meet the people you will be in college with for the next few years.

  • For freshmen, it gets you into the swing of college better than if you were off-campus someplace.

  • Food plan: you can sign up for two to three meals a day. The food is not always great but it is prepared for you. This is a big deal when you are trying to manage a whole new life style.

    • You can sign up for a food plan if you do not live in a dorm, but many dorms have their own cafeteria in the building. Nice!
  • Most colleges give you choices about your dorm environment: Do you want a quiet floor, co-ed, international floor, noisy-at-all-hours group?

    Apartment Living - What You Need to Know before you sign No matter which college living arrangement you choose, remember that

    wherever you live, you must be aware of the need for safety precautions:

    While colleges and universities have campus police units, it is still your responsibility to use common sense to keep yourself safe.

    In addition, familarize yourself with college safety and security measures and federal laws concerning on-campus crime statistics. Remember that on most campuses, campus police have no jurisdiction over off-campus crime, and those statistics are not reflected in any crime stats (sometime inaccurately) reported by the schools.

    Note that until there were laws requiring it, there was very little information available about on-campus and off-campus crime, and it is still true that schools make the judgment of what to call the crime. So, what might be rape at one place, could be called assault at another school.

    Protect yourself against Identity Theft:

    Identity theft is a huge issue, and the Internet has made it easy. If it happens to you, a lot of your time, money, and emotional well-being will be spent trying to save yourself from the consequences of identity theft, including loss of credit, huge credit card bills, someone else using your Social Security number. All that and more.

    They steal your life, as it were.

    Learn about Ways to Guard Against Identity Theft.

    Are your prepared? Here's how they do it:

    Large Site: Identity

    Identity Theft Protection and Help for the Victims

    Use your Common Sense

  • Be careful online. Don't be stupid about people you meet in chat rooms, and don't agree to meet someone elsewhere.

  • Use different passwords for each online account, email and bill paying. Use different passwords, and do not put them on a sticky note next to your computer.

  • Change your mother's maiden name.

  • Install virus protections.

  • Use a password for your computer, and don't give your password to anyone.

  • Remember that with wireless, other users can get into your system, if they are savvy enough.

  • Supplies for the college-living experience

    Being away from home requires supplies.

    If your dorm room is furnished, and most of them are, with basic furniture, you'll only need bedding and curtains to complete the college living arrangement.

    You might want to wait until you and a room mate can shop together to buy the same or coordinating sets.

    For our suggestions about what you'll need, take a look at what to take, what to buy, furnishing dorm rooms and apartments.

    Think Target, Walmart, J.C.Penneys.

    One of the great inventions of modern times for college rooms or cramped apartments is the Loft Bed.

    It can be raised high off the floor, so a desk or other furniture can fit under it, thus doubling the space in the room or apartment. For the best prices I have found anywhere try: Loft Beds for College(Double your space)

    Personal stuff to take to college.

    Personal Supplies to take to College

    Pets in College - Be Responsible

    Speaking as a Humane Society volunteer and long time animal rescuer, don't run to a shelter or pet shop and get a pet, (usually a kitten)and then leave it to fend for itself outside your apartment when you go home for the summer.

    Cause guess what? Next fall, you will do the same thing. And since you won't have bothered to get the animal spayed or neutered. the female cats will get pregnant (up to three times a year,) most of the litter will die, sometimes brutally, and the whole cycle starts again.

    This is inhumane and irresponsible, and a huge price to pay because you want something to pet during the school year. Get a stuffed animal.

    Many office buildings and apartment complexes have colonies of hidden cats living in the shadows where the only people who know of their existence are those concerned enough to the site each day to feed them, and to try to trap them and have them altered.

    If you attend a university engaged in animal testing, your abandoned pet could be picked up by someone and sold to the university labs for animal experimentation. Lest you think this is some sort of humane existence for these laboratory animals, guess again. It is horrific.

    There are people who earn money going around gathering animals to sell for experiments. And, by the way, NEVER advertise animals needing a home as "Free:. Again, there are people who go around collecting "free-to-good-home", promising them a home, and then selling them to laboratories.

    This practice has developed because it is no longer legal, in most states, for animal shelters to provide animals for experiments.

    College Cooking. Eating well is a necessity

    Living in Close Quarters, Check on Immunizations

    It is easier to avoid disease than to try to recover, especially while pursuing your diploma. Certain epidemic diseases like T.B., Whooping Cough and Diphtheria (fatal) are coming back. Meningitis (usually fatal) spreads on college campuses and other places where people come into close contact with each other.

    In addition, our antibiotics don't always do the job, because of overuse, misuse, and disease resistant strains.

    Be safe:

    Before you go, find out about shots and vaccinations!

    College Medical Centers: A Note

    While some college medical centers may offer wonderful care, others don't. Think: socialized medicine. If you have any doubts about the quality of care, arrange to see a private physician, or visit your family's physician at home.

    A HORROR Story and Potential Disaster:

    My daughter went into her school's medical center clinic bent over with pain. She made the mistake of telling the physician her mother thought it was appendicitis. (Which it was,) but the DR. immediately said it wasn't. At her insistence they did a blood test and her white cell count was 18,000! Very, very high.

    Then: they decided she did, indeed, have appendicitis, in fact, acute appendicitis, and told her to go to the hospital. Notice, she could not walk upright, and was in pain, and they watched her go out the door to go to the hospital, which was miles away. She had her bike parked in front!

    Fortunately, a friend came along and drove her, and they operated within the hour-it was that close.

    I wish I could say that is the only horror story I know, but it is not.

    And, btw, this is a major university with its own medical school.

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