I’m an out-of-state student, which means the total amount of debt I’ll accumulate by the time I graduate will be more than I’m comfortable admitting. But, that was a choice my parents and I made together. We all agreed that ASU was the best option for me despite the cost. One thing I didn’t have a choice in was where I would be living my freshman year.
Some of my freshman peers had the option of living with their parents, but because I have don't have relatives living in Arizona, I was forced to call Taylor Place my home for an academic year.
I admit it, I didn't immediately hate the dorm life. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I first walked into the air-conditioned room with a fantastic view and personal bathroom. The dining hall was only a few floors down, and my classes were minutes away from bed.
Counterpoint: On-campus housing should remain a requirement
The novelty quickly wore off when I started to come to terms with the cost of living in the dorms. It also didn't help to live in constant close proximity with a bunch 18 to 20 year olds, which felt like High School 2.0 with even more cliques and drama. I remember a friend of mine saying it was like being stuck in a permanently booked hotel with everyone going to the same jerk convention.
I felt like I was so grown-up living away from my parents, but nothing could have been further from the truth. People across the hall would buy toilet paper and proudly exclaim: “I’m adulting!” as if trying to find the best APR for your car loan is as simple as investing in four-ply Charmin. Dorm life is basically like paying for an overpriced babysitter.
The amount of money I ended up saving after leaving the dorms was significant. My roommates and I split the cost of our two-bedroom apartment in uptown Phoenix three ways equating to $284 a month each. That is $3,408 a year. Compare that to Taylor Place which is $8,500 for the academic year alone.
Even if the cost of living in the dorms equated to the cost of living off-campus, there really isn't much life experience you get when most of your living and meal expenses are essentially prepaid. Any additional income you make living in the dorms would go toward wants instead of needs, if you subtract the cost of of things like laundry detergent and toothpaste. Believe me, it’s a lot easier to say no to a new pair of shoes than deodorant when you only have $10 left in your checking account.
If ASU is going to encourage freshmen and Barrett students to stay on campus the first one or two years then they should emphasize a personal finance segment in the ASU 101 or be more transparent about what it means to actually live like an adult. I think the current system really just coddles students and could end up hurting them in the long run.
I was completely blindsided when I moved into my first apartment. There was nothing I learned while living in the dorms that could have prepared me for setting up internet and gas or learning how to properly finance my living expenses while paying the rent on time.
I understand the argument for having students live on campus the first year. Looking back, I do appreciate the friends I met and the overall campus community I was immersed in, but if I was given the choice, I wouldn't do it again. ASU housing can benefit some people but others might benefit more — especially financially — from living off campus in their own place.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly explained ASU's housing policy.
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