Parent College Coach Tip #109: Off-Campus Housing 101


After the May 1 decision about which college to accept an offer of admission from, comes the decision about housing. Here are some things you might need to consider and/or know about off-campus housing.

Most colleges encourage freshmen to live on campus. It helps your teen bond with other students and get involved in campus life. Living off campus during freshman year can cause the student to feel out of touch with the goings on on campus and contribute to instability during an already emotion packed change.

RELATED: Finding the Perfect Roommate

Some colleges (due to size and location) can’t house all the students. If this is the case, get your housing form in ASAP. It’s first come, first serve and if you don’t act quickly, your child could lose a spot in the dorms. If you’re too late, try and connect with other incoming freshmen and find an apartment or house off campus to share. Check with the campus housing office for information regarding off-campus housing and contact information. Being around other students from the same college will help with adjustment issues.

If you have more than one child headed to the same college, consider buying a house as an investment and let them live there (with other students). This happens often at Texas A&M and University of Texas. Once they have graduated, you can sell the house or keep it and make a hefty profit on rent each year. These rentals are in demand by college students and their families.

RELATED: Living With a Less-than-perfect Roommate

If your child chooses to live at home during college, encourage them to get involved in campus activities. My daughter had a close friend that lived with family during her first semester at the University of Texas. She was a smart girl that worked hard to get accepted. But living off campus with family caused her to struggle in such a huge campus environment. She never felt involved or accepted among the students. She dropped out after just one semester.

Upperclassmen are often encouraged to move off campus to make room for incoming freshmen. Know the policies and campus housing guidelines of the colleges your teen chooses. Don’t get caught by surprise and have to scramble for senior housing (along with thousands of other college students).

Part of being a parent college coach is being prepared for all scenarios, including off-campus housing. If you’re prepared, you won’t have to panic when/if the day arrives that your college student approaches you with the “best plan ever” for living off campus.

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