The most important consideration about living off campus is to get real about the fact that you’re on your own. Neither Mommy nor Daddy will be there to help you make decisions. Nor will they always be there with a hanky, hug and checkbook when something goes wrong.
Understand that when living independently, you’re expected to accomplish your first taste of maturity with intelligence and self-discipline. Even if your parents aren’t there, you’ve been told often enough about what to do and what not to do. Of course, you’ll have your own options about those rules, but you may surprise yourself with the kind of behavior your parents expect. At least, most of the time. Here are some suggestions:
Keep to a schedule
There are many temptations to stay up at all hours, but keep a regular schedule. Avoid rushing around trying to get to classes, meetings and other obligations. Allow yourself time to eat regular meals, rest and study. A very loud alarm clock will be effective, although annoying, in the early morning.
Keep a sensible diet
There won’t be any of Mom’s cooking available to keep you healthy, so make yourself knowledgeable about proper foods. College cafeterias usually offer balanced and well-planned meals. If you’re on your own off-campus, shop for healthful foods. Try to eat your meals at specific times of the day, as you did when you lived at home.
Allow adequate time for study and research
Internet and the library are there for your benefit. Use them both profusely. If you have noisy roommates, take your laptop to the library. It could be the best place for uninterrupted concentration. Many students gather at cafes and Starbucks, but there are too many distractions there for serious study and writing.
Watch the partying
You’re on your own now, but that doesn’t mean you should completely abandon the self-discipline you built up in high school. It’s all out there for you … booze, drugs, parties and all the rest. OK, you’re young and need some time to enjoy your new, independent life, but keep it in perspective. You’re in college to study and prepare yourself for a meaningful future.
Be financially responsible
Pay your rent, utilities and all other bills promptly. If you’re living with other students, set up and follow a system where each participates fairly in all financial responsibilities. The same cooperation applies to cleaning, laundry, cooking and other everyday tasks.
Living off campus for the first time can be a wonderful experience for college students. As the caption on the Statue of Liberty tells us, we’re all yearning to breathe free. However, real freedom comes only when it’s balanced by responsibility.