Programs to offer advice about off-campus living

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

Off-campus students may feel overwhelmed transitioning from residence halls to apartments or houses. The University wants to make sure the transition goes smoothly.

The Office of the Dean of Students is developing new programs to help students be prepared. Assistant Dean of Students Andrew Alt said students who live off-campus or plan to live off-campus will have access to seminars titled ‘Off-Campus 101’ and ‘Off-Campus 102.’

”Off-campus 101′ is a workshop that will last probably between an hour or two hours for students who are considering the move off campus,’ he said.

The workshop will give students a basic idea of what they need to think about before moving off-campus, such as what kind of apartment to look for, what questions to ask a landlord and how to budget.

‘Off-campus 102’ will be a more specific workshop.

‘It’s going to be targeted to students who know they are going to move off campus and have decided where they are going to live in most cases,’ Alt said.

It will focus on neighbor relationships, maintaining roommate relations and time management, he said.

These programs supplement the annual Housing Fair, which allows students to meet with rental agencies in the area. The fair will be held Nov. 19. Last year, other off-campus services, such as Student Legal Services and Student Money Management were in attendance.

Student Legal Services is available to all University students for a small fee. According to Rodney Fleming, an attorney with the service, it can be very helpful to off-campus students.

‘One of the major things we do is assist them with landlord/tenant issues,’ Fleming said. ‘This time of the year, when students are moving in, there might be repairs that need to be made, that they just can’t get their landlord to make. They can come here and we can help them get those repairs made.’

The service can help with other legal issues too.

‘If you ever have any question about your legal rights or responsibilities, you should come see legal services immediately,’ he said. ‘If you wait until it’s too late, many times you will have a big issue on your hands. If you had come to us earlier, we could have resolved things much more favorably.’

Fleming suggests off-campus students take pictures of their new surroundings when they move-in, and when they move-out in order to help avoid issues with security deposits.

Another University offered service is Student Money Management. Patricia Donnelly, the interim director, said Money Management offers many tools on their Web site for students. Students can also meet with the staff and create a monthly budget.

‘We’ll sit down and we’ll help them hammer out a plan for themselves to see how they can get their expenses met,’ Donnelly said.

Nicholle King, a senior, said she would like to see more options for students living off-campus.

‘I think they need more transportation for students who live further off campus,’ she said.

She would like more information to be available in the Union for off-campus students.

Alt hopes students will use the new resources and information available.

‘It is such a transition from living in the residence hall. And I don’t think in the past we’ve done as good as a job to prepare students for that transition,’ he said. ‘It is important that we, as a university, are preparing students for that transition, if they want to use those resources.’