When sophomores return to campus for Intersession or the spring semester, they are faced with the looming problem of having to acquire housing off-campus. For most students, this marks the first time that they have to seek out their own living accommodations.
“[Landlords] know that you’re 19, and you’re freaking out, and you’re looking for an apartment for yourself for the first time,” sophomore Reagan Hensley said. “You’re going to find a place to live. Don’t let the landlords scare you. Whenever you tour a place and they give you an application, don’t freak out.”
The Office of Off-Campus Housing recognizes the anxiety and dissatisfaction that some students have about finding their own accommodations after sophomore year, a requirement that is unusual at other universities and colleges.
“After the freshman and sophomore residence requirement years, juniors and seniors have been supported as they transitioned to off-campus independent living,” Associate Dean of Housing, Dining, and Residential Life Carol Mohr wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Though a valuable experience, we are hearing that there is greater desire to continue to live in student housing.
The University plans to expand off-campus housing options for students with the 3200 St. Paul development.
Erin Yun, deputy to the Vice Provost of Student Affairs, said that the project will be uniquely suited to Hopkins upperclassmen.
“What we heard from students was that many juniors and seniors are looking for a more independent style of living than is afforded them in the University residence halls,” Yun said. “The model being adopted by the 3200 [St. Paul] facility will provide students with additional housing options, allowing them to have greater independence while also staying proximate to campus and the community and services that exist there. The 3200 property is not managed by the University and will provide a transition to more independent lifestyle. However, it is located close to the University and within the University security perimeter.”
As they worry about their future living arrangements, a number of students expressed concerns about security.
“Yeah, I’m actually still kind of worried about [security],” sophomore Jay Miller said. “My roommates were super casual about it, but we’re at the very end of University, close to the intersection of University and Greenmount. It isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely less nice than farther up University.”
Hensley agreed that her living arrangements next year might not be as safe as they are currently, but she acknowledged that campus security has a strong presence in the area.
“I really want to stay in a nice area,” Hensley said. “I’m not going to be in my house after dark every night. I’m going to be walking there, sometimes maybe even alone, after dark or late at night. So it’s definitely an issue, but I feel that off-campus security does a pretty good job of making me feel safe, because you can always see one of them somewhere.”
Aside from security concerns, students often worry about whether they will be able to find a place to live. There a number of avenues through which students find housing, and many begin their searches using advice from upperclassmen.
“I pretty much just asked a couple different friends if their apartment was open or if someone was taking their apartment for next year,” sophomore Ruth Landry said. “Two people said that their apartments were already taken, but that they would help me if they knew of anyone else. And it was actually another random friend who’s also a sophomore, who knew of someone who needed to [have someone] pick up his lease.”
Some students were frustrated with the lack of an effective online housing database.
“The houses we looked at weren’t online,” Miller said. “Over Intersession, we spent a day walking around and looking at listings on the street. And we ended up finding a flyer and we emailed that guy.”
Other students, however, found the Off-Campus Housing Office’s website to be useful.
“I started off just asking people and just looking at the most obvious options, like University West and Hopkins House,” Hensley said. “But those websites weren’t very helpful, and they were a little more expensive than I was looking for. So the Off-Campus Housing site was good because it was stuff that wasn’t in those obvious high-rises. And so far, the three or four places I’ve looked at seriously have been from that website.”
Students had different priorities when it came to features that they wanted in their future residences, but proximity to campus was universally viewed as a benefit.
“We wanted to have two bathrooms, [and live] ideally pretty close to Hopkins,” Miller said.
“I wanted a big living room,” Landry said. “And it to be relatively close to campus.”
Many students felt that it would be helpful to at least have the option to live on campus after sophomore year.
“It is kind of bad that there’s literally no possible option [to live on campus],” Miller said. “I think it would be better if there was an option to live on campus because some people would rather have the comfort of being in campus buildings.”
Hensley pointed out that finding non-University housing can also pose financial obstacles.
“I think that it’s a good move to make before you leave campus, looking for your own apartment and stuff like that, but I feel that there should be options, especially for kids that are on full rides,” Hensley said.
Conversely, some students are looking forward to moving off campus.
“I wish it could happen earlier,” Landry said. “I’d be fine with moving out this year. I like living in Bradford because it feels like my own apartment. My advice for freshman is to start early.”