With registration for spring semester classes currently on going — and me deciding whether or not to continue taking classes before my French refresher begins in August 2012 — this seemed a superb topic. While I received a great education at the University of Texas at Austin back in the 90’s, and came away with not one but two Bachelors degrees, the thing I regret the most is not living on campus while I went to school.
When I graduated high school, Mom and Dad handed me a check and gave me a choice: you can buy a car or live on campus. By then I’d been working at Target for six months, with both of them playing chauffeur for me, which I’m sure was getting old for us all. And that dollar amount on the check didn’t really seem like it’d be enough to pay for campus housing (it certainly wouldn’t have covered it these days). So I opted for the car.
Now, in some ways it was a good decision. That red 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme I named Rhonda Christine gave me a lot of freedom and made me lots of friends; heck, I could take 9 of my closest buddies to the movies with me all in the same car! I could work more hours because I didn’t have to rely on the parents for transportation, which enabled me to get a promotion with earlier hours (and meant I was done by noon). As a result, I changed my school schedule so I was home a lot earlier in the day, and I could take classes that ended after the last bus picked up from campus. I was able to work enough hours to pay for school without needing a student loan, and these days that’s a huge debt to not have hanging over my head.
Yet I have so many friends that have stories from their college days while living on campus, both good and bad of course, and many of those friendships are still in place today years later. They tell me of their many roommates and the parties, celebrations, girls nights in, girls nights out, campus activities they attended and so on. Now, I’ve had my own version of a “walk of shame” — there was one occasion when I had to sneak my boyfriend downstairs and out the front door in the wee hours of the morning after he’d climbed the fricking tree outside my window and knocked on my patio door, surprising and scaring the bejeezus out of me. But we didn’t get caught and that was a good thing, so it’s not quite the same.
I do know that if I am lucky enough to have kids, or rope me a guy with kids of his own, I’d definitely want them to have the option of campus life (although I’d probably add in the caveat of a part-time job to cover their cell phone bill and spending money). In hindsight, I know I missed out on a very important part of the college experience by not staying in a dorm.