On-campus vs. off-campus housing: Which do you choose?

Mercer is in the middle of changing the requirements that outline the number of years that students are required to live on campus. However, when a student has served their time in on campus housing, the question arises: should I move off campus or stay on campus? For me, the decision dealt with factors like the cost of rent or dorm fees, the distance of available housing from the school, the safety of the location, and features of the on campus apartments verses housing elsewhere. I had the benefit of living and working in Macon this summer to try out off campus housing, and decided to continue living in this house for the semester. My findings? I determined that, even though commuting to campus requires you to plan your schedule for the day to avoid being stuck in a thunderstorm or walking back home in the dark, walking or biking to campus gives me time to grab a little exercise and save some gas money. Having a kitchen has been the biggest benefit to living in a house instead of a dorm. Not only can I cook foods the way I like them fixed, I also save money by not having to purchase one of the larger meal plan options through the cafeteria. Off campus housing gives you more of a sense of privacy than do dorms or campus apartments. I only have to ask my roommates to be quiet while I study, instead of having to worry about the rowdy apartment next to me or the people who live above my dorm room that seem to be pounding through my ceiling. Plus, after two years of dorm fire drills and countless times of standing outside in my pajamas because someone’s hair dryer had set off the fire alarm again, I never have to worry about when the next frustrating, loud, and inconvenient fire alarm will go off. I can simply relax and know that if my alarm were to sound at my off campus house, it is probably for a legitimate fire and I need to get myself out as soon as possible! Living off campus encourages you to explore the Macon community more, to eat downtown, exercise at the park, shop at a local store, and interact with other students who live off campus. It has shown me that while Mercer’s campus is a pleasant and remarkable place, there are other places in Macon that are worth checking out. Yes, the chores that come with living in a house instead of a dorm are an added responsibility. Nobody mows the grass for us or fixes our washing machine when it is broken, but I believe that learning to keep up with these chores and responsibilities is an important part of any young person’s life. Therefore, if you are a student who doesn’t mind living in close quarters with numerous other students, appreciates the convenience of simply walking to the cafeteria for lunch, or frequently wakes up late and sprints to class just in time, off campus housing may not be for you. However, if you like the independence and privacy that comes with having a house or nearby apartment, enjoy cooking meals in a kitchen, and don’t mind planning a few extra minutes to walk or drive to campus each day, then my suggestion would be to try off campus housing. I enjoyed my summer in my off campus home and am looking forward to prolonging my stay there throughout this semester. Being off campus gives me the ability to be an involved Mercer student while allowing me to explore the Macon community.