Off-campus housing: A new trend

by Sarah Butle

A growing number of students at Simpson have made the decisionto leave the residence halls.

About 19 percent of students were living off campus this pastfall, slightly more than the five-year average of 17 percent,according to Jim Thorius, vice president of student development anddean of students. Students decide to live off campus for differentreasons: to be closer to work, to be able to live with a spouse orpartner or to have more personal freedom than is available incampus facilities.

“There aren’t as many rules, there are no quiet hours and youcan have guests anytime,” said Garrett Biller, a senior, who livesoff-campus. Biller and his two roommates, who are also Simpsonstudents, rented an apartment in Indianola last fall afterreceiving a bad number in the lottery for campus housing.

Michelle Checki-Delker, a junior who also lives off campus,agrees with Biller.

“The advantages to living off campus are that there are lessstringent rules and more freedom.”

A lack of rules is not the only factor to consider when makingthe decision to move off campus. Students thinking about moving offcampus also need to think about the cost, the time it will take forthe commute and the effect it may have on schoolwork andinvolvement in campus groups and activities.

“Past research suggests that students who live off campus aregenerally less involved in campus life,” said Thorius.

Biller said his extracurricular activities have notsuffered.

“It’s about half the cost of room and board at Simpson,” Billersaid. “And it actually helped with my schoolwork because thereweren’t always people stopping by.”

Living on campus also comes with its own set of rewards.

“Access to campus, connection to the Simpson community,convenience to facilities and opportunities for personaldevelopment and growth are some of the advantages of living oncampus,” said Thorius.

Checki-Delker, who lives in Urbandale, feels that she would havebeen more involved had she decided not to commute. However, makinga comparison is difficult for her since she has never lived oncampus. She has been a commuter student since she and her husbandmoved to Iowa from Florida.

Not every Simpson student can choose to live off campus.According to the Student Handbook, Simpson requires full-timestudents to live on campus unless they live with a family member oran immediate relative. Exceptions are made for seniors, studentsover the age of 23 and veterans.

Off campus living may not be the right choice for all studentsat Simpson. However, both Biller and Checki-Delker are happy withtheir decisions.

“As a commuter, you get some really great [parking] spots,” saidChecki-Delker.