Sept. 1, 2014

Jonathan Toman
jtoman@uccs.edu

This is a commuter campus. It has been since the university started, and still is. End of story.

However, the tide is turning. New dorms and new apartments in two consecutive years illustrate the change this campus is experiencing. On campus life, if not impactful yet, is growing.

I have lived on campus; I have lived off campus. And there’s a clear result in this titanic struggle for housing situations. The answer: it depends.

As a freshman, I lived in the dorms here at UCCS. I didn’t have to, but I did. I had friends from high school that lived at home and commuted. I knew then, and I know now, that mine was the best course.

I got involved.  I was successful academically, socially and with extracurricular activities.

I know this wasn’t solely due to my physical location, but it sure helped. Getting involved meant a walk out the door, not a car ride through brutal traffic. Getting involved meant knocking on a door down the hallway, not a long distance phone call.

I started working at The Scribe in the fall of my freshmen year, and I know I wouldn’t have done that if I lived off-campus. Now, The Scribe is a large part of my life and one of the hallmarks of my college experience. I found that, in part, by living on campus.

Having something to tie me to the school helped immensely. On campus, you’re more likely to find your own niche.

But then I got older. As a junior, I am now living off-campus and not at home. I know now, and I will still know in five years, that this was the best course.

Personal independence is now the hallmark of where I want to head. And, to me, that includes living on your own: food, rent and other grown-up things that you only experience living off campus without a safety net.

Advice from someone who has been there is often the most potent, if you choose to listen. It’s up to you how you go through college, not me. But take this nugget of information and run with it.

If you can, if it is in your hands to make this call, if you are financially secure enough, do this: live on campus as a freshman and/or sophomore. The experience is so much more vivid, so much more intense, and it is the only time in your life when you will be able to experience this. Take advantage of it.

Then, when you become an upperclassmen, move off-campus and make your own way. The best way to learn is by doing, and take the leap to thrust yourself in the fire.

You only do college once. Make it the best years you can.