Jo Allen, ’80, is the eighth president of Meredith College, a top-tier nationally-ranked institution and one of the largest private colleges for women in the U.S. A national advocate for higher education, she is the first alumna to lead the 128-year-old institution.
In this blog post, President Allen explores the (sometimes surprising) benefits of living on campus.
A basic Google search provides ample evidence (both documented research and anecdotal experience) about the pros and cons of students’ living on a college campus. At Meredith, the residential experience is key to creating a network of learning, support, and fun that defines the ideal experience. It’s worth a closer look to understand the advantages of living on campus — academically, socially, and, yes, financially.
Life on campus provides a stronger context for your daughter’s academic studies. More immediate access to faculty and advisors, to collaborative partners in group projects, and to resources such as the library and technology reinforces her purpose for being in college. The networks, mentors, and friends who are cultivated through these activities and interactions will further define her college experience and prepare her for life beyond.
Other on-campus resources such as our Career Planning Center and internship coordinators will help channel her learning toward her career interests, and the Learning Center provides tutors who can help if she is grappling with complex coursework. Meredith’s StrengthsLab is another resource where counselors and peer supporters can help explore her strengths and put them to good use in building and following through on her plans. Ready access to these and other resources such as the Health Center, Disability Services, and the Counseling Center can help her manage the physical and mental pressures of being a college student and growing into adulthood.
Living on campus provides ready access to a group of friends who are at similar points in their life’s journey. Perhaps she seeks others who share her passion for volunteering, for the environment, for the arts, music, or for travel. Or she may find friends who challenge her to be her best self – by developing patience or taking risks or listening more deeply to those with whom she may disagree. And, of course, great friendships blossom and last a lifetime over shared experiences: a difficult course, an annual trip or party, or some of the great Meredith traditions.
And while it may seem that off-campus apartment life is ideal for social and financial reasons, many of our students who do move into off-campus apartments find the noise and disruptions of their neighbors’ parties and lifestyles to be a source of irritation – especially when that big test is coming up and quiet study time (or sleep!) is desperately needed.
It is important to weigh the financial and convenience factors of living on campus. Many of our students and their families find that living on campus really IS a bargain, especially when figuring all that residence life includes: a meal plan, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, kitchenette access, fitness center, security services, trash/waste removal, maintenance, Health Center fees, and more. The out-of-pocket costs of many of these services in an off-campus apartment easily eclipse the cost of living on campus. And the convenience of having ready study partners, balanced meals, and a two-minute “commute” to classes really can’t be beat.
Combine all of these advantages with the beauty of this wonderful campus, its spirited traditions, clubs, and sports, as well as its proximity to downtown’s museums, shops, restaurants and the Research Triangle Park’s opportunities for internships and shadowing experiences, and well, 3800 Hillsborough Street is a prime location!
Given that residential students are more likely to succeed and graduate on time means your daughter can move even more quickly from paying tuition to earning a living (and getting an even nicer apartment with fewer headaches!)
Most of all, on-campus living is a treasured highlight of the college experience. Study partners, late night conversations, a built-in network of people who are sharing her life’s journey help her build a fuller intellectual and social community that will help her connect, grow, and put learning – and life – into context. Clearly, the residential experience is a precious opportunity in your daughter’s development as an emerging adult who is cultivating lifelong friends and networks of influence.