Ask The Weekly with Colleen Loranger – 2/27/15

I am a sophomore and I’m getting caught up in all of this off-campus house searching flurry. I feel external pressure, like I have to figure it out, but it also seems so early and I don’t know how to make it all work and I’m not even sure who I want to live with! Am I actually screwed if we don’t get it now?

First, here’s a statistic to calm your nerves. According the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings, 36 percent of Macalester students live off-campus and 64 percent live in “college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing.” While it may seem like everyone is migrating off-campus their junior and senior years, this is not a wholly accurate portrait.

External pressure can be a catalyst for making big moves (like living off-campus for example), but it can also force us into things we aren’t ready for. Just because everyone else seems to be moving off-campus does not mean you will miss out. The experience is different, but not necessarily a lesser one. At many colleges similar to Mac, students live on campus for four years. There are many logistical considerations beyond the popular choice. For example: how far away are you willing to be?

Do you have reliable friends or acquaintances who you can count on to do things like pay rent on time? Are you prepared to do things like take the bus to buy groceries? Will the cost of housing change for you if you leave campus?

If you feel you are prepared for the challenges (and rewards) that off-campus living can bring, there are many resources you can easily take advantage of. I would first advise you to gather a group of up to three other people (the St. Paul Student Housing Ordinance officially requires no more than four student residents per one or two family dwelling). The people you select should be reliable and all-in. Few things are more frustrating than people changing housing plans at the last minute.

Then divide tasks among your cohorts. These will include checking the Mac-Groveland Craigslist listings, the Daily Piper and the Macalester Off-Campus Living website postings. Email landlords about every possible listing and with some luck and dedication you will find a place. I’m no expert, but this is how I have had success finding housing off campus. If you have further questions, direct them to the Office of Student Affairs.

For further advice on the sticky topic of college housing, refer to my Nov. 14th question: How do I tell people I don’t want to live with them next year?