It isn’t a secret that the University of Houston is trying to shed its “commuter school” moniker, preferring instead to be a school that houses a large number of students on campus. To prove it, two on campus housing complexes and a couple of additional parking garages have been built over the last six years with other housing projects currently in the works. The University offers dorm style housing options in several large buildings, and apartment style housing in gated complexes. The school even offers luxurious apartments bordering the business and law schools, housing students ranging from their early 20′s to their late 40′s. These buildings even feature exercise rooms a, sky loft and an indoor movie theater.
University of Houston’s “Live on Campus” brochure lists conceivable perks of living on campus, and claims an on-campus living arrangement is more cost efficient, fun, convenient. They even claim it leads to better grades than the commuting alternative.
“It definitely was a big benefit,” said alumnus Steven Potter, who lived in the Calhoun Lofts on-campus apartments. “If I were coming in from Sugar Land, I’d have to leave at least 2 hours early to fight traffic and then try to find a parking spot.”
There are also options for affordable car rental by the hour for those who don’t have a vehicle, along with several in-the-building mini-markets that stock a modest amount of groceries.
Although the brochure points out potential perks of living on the campus, they don’t always apply. Certainly not everyone can handle the responsibility of living on their own while balancing a social life and acceptable grades. Contrary to what the brochure says, grades may actually suffer while living on campus, particularly depending on into which crowd an impressionable underclassman may fall. Another potential misconception is that living on campus will always save you both time and money. The costs of living on campus are often more than one would normally pay. Alumnus Marcos Rios shared a spacious apartment near Meyerland with hardwood floor 10 miles away from campus that cost him $300 a month plus utilities. A two bedroom apartment at Calhoun Lofts with a little more than half the square feet would usually cost in the high 700′s, but rent on two bedroom apartments in most places nearby campus range from the high 600′s to low 700′s.
As far as convenience goes, some housing areas are so close to campus that the convenience of a five-minute walk to class is undeniable. However, when Rios was asked why he didn’t live on campus, one of the other reasons besides the unattractive price was the dangerous surrounding neighborhood, which was reported by www.NeighborhoodScout.com as one of the top 5 most dangerous neighborhoods in Houston.
So while the location of certain housing areas may be convenient, the surrounding area may make the convenience come at a hefty price. Rios also cited a third reason for not living on campus: the lack of a real grocery store. While the mini-marts do their best at accommodating students on campus, they are small and lack the real selection needed in an actual grocery store. As one would be able to get many things, chances are there would be a few inaccessible things that would need to be picked up at an actual grocery store.
Some housing options are impressive, but one should look at the offerings and assess his or her current situation before deciding for certain that the possible perks will work to their benefit.
Jacob Patterson is a business senior and may be reached at email@example.com.