First years decide: on or off campus

First-year students applying for housing for next fall have to choose whether or not to live on campus again.

University of Minnesota first-year dance major Katie Taintor reapplied to live in Middlebrook Residence Hall for fall 2009. As a current resident of Middlebrook, Taintor was allowed to apply early to secure a room for herself and her intended roommate in the new addition of the residence hall. Because most of her classes are held on the West Bank, she finds it logical to live in the same building. Deciding where to live can be difficult for first-years and sophomores in a community as large as the University. Some students, like Taintor, choose to stay on campus for their sophomore year, while others choose to explore the many surrounding neighborhoods. University Housing and Residential Life began accepting reapplications from students wishing to return to any of the UniversityâÄôs residence halls or apartment buildings on Jan. 20. First-year global studies student Byron Schuldt plans to live in a residence hall for a second year because he said the atmosphere allows him to concentrate on studying. Living on campus is not ideal for first-year chemistry student Jessica Gearou, however. She said University Commons interests her for next fall. Brian Nalezny , University Commons property manager, said 30 to 40 percent of new student residents are sophomores. Nalezny attributed this to studentsâÄô desire to get away from the small, drab setup of the on-campus residence halls. He said students like moving away from campus where they donâÄôt have to share bathrooms with an entire hall, and they can cook the food they want, when they want. Susan Stubblefield , assistant director of Housing and Residential Life, said deciding where to live for the second year of college depends on the student. She said some students choose to live on campus for a second year because it is convenient. About 40 percent of first-year students who lived on campus last year returned to University housing this year, Stubblefield said. âÄúTheyâÄôve lived on campus, they realize the convenience of access to their classrooms, access to all the activities and events happening on campus and just being able to keep living in the vibrant core of the University,âÄù she said. She also said parents and students like that costs of living are all up front through University housing. Nalezny said expenses at University Commons are set up in a similar way. âÄúFor University Commons, everything is included in [the] rent,âÄù Nalezny said. Renters donâÄôt have to pay extra for cable, internet or utilities and are given an allowance for electricity, he said. University housing also offers on-campus apartments at University Village, Mark G. Yudof Hall and Roy Wilkins Hall . These locations donâÄôt include a mandatory meal plan with University Dining Services, though it is still an option. Living in a University apartment is âÄúa really nice transition opportunity,âÄù Stubblefield said. Students have the freedom and flexibility of an apartment with the convenience of living on campus. Yudof Hall is the only of the three apartment buildings that does not have a full kitchen inside the room, though there is a community kitchen on each floor. Stubblefield said benefits extend past cost and convenience. The environment in University housing promotes education and allows students to develop skills for living on their own while also offering support. Support is also available to students living off campus through Student and Community Relations. Kendre Turonie, STC office coordinator, presents information pertinent to students looking to off-campus housing in residence halls around this time every year. Besides providing information, Turonie helps students get involved in neighborhood associations, as well as mediates any disputes that arise between permanent residents and student renters. Turonie is also involved in some of the neighborhood associations. In the past, her office has sponsored a neighborhood barbeque in the Southeast Como neighborhood where they welcomed new students and brought out homeowners in a âÄúfun, friendly atmosphere,âÄù she said. If students want to live off campus, Turonie said, getting to know the neighbors is the first thing they should do. Laying a foundation of familiarity will help make it a positive living experience. As far as making the choice of where to live, Stubblefield said it depends on where students are in their lives.