Columns Opinion

Campus housing not for everyone

| stock photo

| Stock photo/The Daily Cougar

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 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 protected].


  • Living amongst other students can be a big part of the overall college experience. Making new friends, being independent and feeling like part of a community are definitely benefits to living on campus.

  • I don’t know why you really need a full grocery store on a college campus. The mini-mart selection at UH rival the same at UT and A&M. It is but a short bus ride to Kroger for an expanded selection. Plus you can get all you want at the dining hall.
    The surrounding neighborhood is in transition, but you probably don’t have much need to ever go into the neighborhood if you don’t live there. Our campus security is better than ever and the reported problems are the same as other major university campuses.
    The perk is not having an excuse for not being successful in your classes. You are a 5 minute slow walk to your classes, multiple computing centers, tutoring, advisors, food, entertainment, …
    This is the “living on campus” experience. You complain about it while you’re here having a good time, then when you’re older you look back on the good memories and wonder how you ever survived.
    Hopefully you learn to be independent thinkers, make good life choices, make good use of your time resources, earn excellent grades, get accepted to a great internship, go on to the best grad school, and will be living the good life…all because you lived on campus. and you will want your kids to have the same great experience and opportunities.

    • “The surrounding neighborhood is in transition” – Well if you mean the METRORail link and endless road upgrades, then yes, there is transition – to expedite leaving the area. I keep tabs on major development projects going on around Houston, and I can tell you nothing awesome is coming to the UH area anytime soon. Also, Kroger on Cullen isn’t really a “short bus ride”. If you don’t count either the transfer, or walking several blocks, then yes it’s a short ride.

      Even as UH continues to strive to be even better and METRORail gets here, I doubt awesome development will ever come. UH will probably continue to be a mainly commuter school, the hood will continue to be the hood, and major businesses don’t see much profit or benefit to building in an area that where higher-income people tend to be transient in the area, and lower-income tend to be permanent residents. So yeah, a Rice Village for UH is likely going to exist only in our dreams.

  • I lived in the old Cougar Place. My grades improved markedly living on campus. I think President Khator made it clear that if a student wants a more traditional experience of living on campus UH will provide and encourage that. If you want to commute, just go to class and leave than that’s your option as well. I think if you choose the latter option you are missing out on college life and the lifelong friendships that you create with professors and other students. The reasons stated for not living on campus are not that strong. On campus or off campus you are not going to have a grocery store across the street. Kroger is a short drive away and there is major grocery stores in midtown and Gulfgate. The convenience of living on campus will get even better when the light rail is finished. Students will have the option to zip over to the Galleria, TMC,Hermann Park, Midtown and downtown to catch a game or an event at Discovery Green. The dangerous neighborhood statement is so overblown. 1. There is really no reason for a student to be strolling through the neighborhood. Everything you need is on campus. 2. USC, Temple, etc. are in much higher crime neighborhoods than 3rd ward will ever be. It doesn’t stop their students in having pride in their school and enjoying college life. The 3rd ward is not even close to being the worse neighborhood in Houston. There is more crime around HBU than UH. Why doesn’t anyone make that an issue when talking about HBU? The UH experience is not for everyone. If a student wants a rural college town in the middle of nowhere so they can frolic in the grassy hills around campus go to A&M, Baylor or Tech.

  • I’ve lived on campus for two years, and begrudgingly will do so again this year (only b/c family pushed it). The article is right on priciness. Even if there’s a convenience fee for living on campus, it seems exhorbitantly high for what you get. The bathroom at the Quads are terrible.

    Also the surrounding area sucks. I’m not really worried about safety; UHPD has managed to have a good track record. It’s just so BORING with what options are nearby. Dingy-versions of national chain restaurants, only 1 bar (Den is good, but we need more choices), mostly sad looking mom & pop stores, abandoned businesses/homes, seedy homes, and one big boring park. No popular retail outlets, nothing. Is it a wonder why we’re a commuter school?

    There may be a few good stuff near UH (Frenchy’s, Den, and that’s about it) but most of the other stuff is pretty trashy. I’m being realistic, as a person who’s had no car. Plus there are too many METRO stops near campus without either benches or a shelter. You’d think we could at least make nice UH-themed shelters to encourage people to use transit. Or at least a bench and shelter. You think they could operate an express route to downtown so people can make transfers without going through the hood.

  • I lived in Cougar Village last year and I absolutely loved it. I made many great friends and did really well in my classes for being a freshman. I definitely do not regret living on campus for my first year, but this year, living on campus is simply out of the question. Personally, I do not think the accommodations are worth the cost of living on campus. No one can deny that living in a house or apartment with your own room, bathroom, kitchen and living room is more appealing than sharing a room with someone and not having a kitchen or paying astronomical rent per month for one of the apartments “on campus”. I think living on campus for at least one year is a wonderful thing if people can afford it. Unfortunately, it’s just not in the cards for every student at UH. As much as I love UH, I do truly wish the surrounding area was nicer. Like College Station, but not. I really love Houston. Just wish we were in the “Rice Village-like” part of town.

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