During the last three weeks I observed the difference between how students live on campus and how students live off campus. The reason behind my decision to observe this was because I was curious to see the pros and cons of both ways of living. However, the last two years I was living on campus so instead of studying my way of living on campus I studied my five roommates and how they function daily. For one week I lived off campus with some friends and observed how they function and perform tasks on a daily basis.
My research method for studying people who dorm was to follow them and see how they function whenever I was not in class. However, my research method for studying those who commuted to school, I went with them whenever I was not in class to see how they functioned on the daily basis as well. In the beginning of this research I had a pre-assumption that living on campus was more convenient than living off campus. However, the reason why I choose this topic was to help students decide whether or not they want to live on or off campus in the future, by providing students the pros and cons to both ways of living.
On October 22, 2015 I started my research with students who lived on campus. My first participant is a marketing major named Nick who is also a volunteer firefighter for Long Branch Fire Department. In the morning Nick would wake up at 7:45 am to take a shower and get ready for his day. Before Nick takes his shower, he would fill up the coffee pot in the kitchen of the dorm and let it run while he was in the shower. After Nick’s shower and coffee, he would proceed to his first class. However, Nick seemed to not care about the time he left going to class because of the short walking distance.
I was told by Nick that he gets food after his 11:40am class every day and heads back to the dorm. Nick said that he runs on a very strict eating schedule so he doesn’t mess up his eating habits while being away from home. After his last class at 4:30pm he would head back to the dorms and start working on his homework for the upcoming days. Out of all the roommates that I choose, I picked Nick based on his schedule and how he functions on a daily basis. Since he is a volunteer firefighter, he never knows when he is needed to help.
Nick sometimes wakes up at 2:30am to go out for a fire call if he is needed or if he wants to help the fire department exterminate the fire quickly. Every night, Nick goes to sleep around 10:30pm because he never knows if he has to get up in the middle of the night for a fire call. After observing my roommate Nick I realized that students who dorm on campus can have a completely different life if they have a commitment like sports or being a firefighter. My method of gathering my data for Nick was that I’d wake up at 7:00am every morning for a week to get ready for class and wait to see how Nick functioned in the morning.
Whenever he walked to class I would walk with him and observe how he functioned in a different social background. As he went into the classroom, I would wait outside the room till his class was over and proceed to follow him and ask questions. In the beginning when I started my research for students living on campus I began using methods anthropologist use today. Before I began taking field notes I gave all five of my roommates a survey for them to take. The location of where the surveys were to be filled out is very important I decided to have them fill it out in the comfort of their own dorm rooms.
Two questions on the survey that stuck out the most to me that were on the survey were how often are you late to class? And what is your most difficult task to complete daily? The answers to these two questions I received were astonishing. Dylan, one of my roommates said that he found himself running late to class often because he always assumes he has more time than he actually has. However, nick said that he found himself always arriving to class on time due to the convenience of living right next to the classrooms.
Nick also answered that his hardest task was studying for exams since living with five other people can be distracting. However, Bob, my roommate said that getting a solid sleep schedule is a hard task to maintain since he is always busy with homework and studying. For my fieldwork research I would follow each one of them around for a day and then I would select the one person that intrigued me the most to follow around for a week; that’s how I decided Nick would be the main subject for my research in living on campus.
During my fieldwork I would take notes for the day on how these students would tackle tasks they face every day. After I was done with my research studying students who lived on campus I decided to spend a week off campus with some of my friends who commute. My main subject for living off campus was my friend Will who was always on the move for the week I spent at his house. Will would wake up at 7:45am every day to get ready for class at around 8:15am he would leave for school. The first day Will explained to me that if you do not come to school early finding a parking spot is nearly impossible.
However, Will didn’t start till 10:05am so he would go to the student center every morning to get breakfast. Will stressed the importance to getting breakfast in the morning he said that it was ‘essential. ‘ Once Will’s classes for the day were over he would head over to club soccer practice which would last maybe an hour to an hour and a half. Beforehand Will would go to the dining hall and eat three plates of food so he has energy for practice. I noticed that Will takes his nutrition serious he would always ask workers in the dining hall where the food came from before he put it on his plate.
If the worker did not know he would not take whatever it was, Will is a strong believer in knowing where the food you eat comes from before you actually consume it. After soccer Will would go back to the dining hall and get yogurt with fruit. Once he finished eating Will would head back to his house to start his homework. However, Will always does homework while watching any sporting event that was on television. This prolonged the time it took Will to complete the homework he was assigned for the next day. After Will finished his homework, he would take a shower and go to bed around 11:30pm.
On certain days Will had to go to a hospital to get his hours in his major. These days he went to the hospital to help, out he would not go to bed till 2:00am. Will had a very complex schedule that changed based on the day of the week. Maintaining the system Will uses to complete tasks for certain days is hard to do. I asked Will how he liked living off campus and he said it was alright. In response I asked him if he could elaborate more and he said that ‘it has its perks, but paying rent and driving to school every day can get tiresome. Will loves living off campus, he said, he just doesn’t want to pay rent. The ability to have no rules to follow and being able to do what you want was a huge plus to Will. Fieldwork for living off campus was more active than it was for living on campus. Will was always driving to and from campus all the time. I gave my friends who lived in the same house as Will the same survey the one I gave my roommates and their answers were outstanding for my research. This time the two questions that the answers varied the questions were is it hard balancing school work with a social life?
And would you refer your current living situation to someone you know? Nash, another friend of mine said that during the week and some weekends he has no social life which can get annoying at times. While Will responded absolutely not he always has time for seeing friends. For the second question Will’s roommate Pete answered he would not due to the financial cost of living, however, if you are stable financially to live off campus in a house go for it the best experience you will ever have. Nash’s response was that if he can go back to freshman year and change anything it would live off campus he loves it.
However, Will was indifferent he says there’s no point in living off campus if he is always at school the only perks are you don’t have to listen to rules set by a resident assistant. Living on or off campus is based on preference. However, both styles of living comes with pros and cons. Living on campus may be more convenient for getting to class on time, however, sharing a room with someone who can have a completely different schedule then you can be different. As well as sharing a same room, but following a residence assistants rules at the age of early adulthood can out a damper on developing as an adult.
Living off campus may give you that freedom to live on your own, however, paying rent monthly and commuting to school may burn away all the money you have saved up. Maintaining a social is not a problem in either living environment for both groups seemed fine with their friend groups. The major concern for both living environments is either financial issues or dealing with rules that have been placed. Living off campus has financial issues based on where you want to live, and living on campus, you have to worry about resident assistants always coming by to check your room and giving you the list of rules they made.
However, the fun in living on campus is being paired up with someone random that you have never met before, making it easy for new students to make friends. Being a cultural anthropologist was a challenge, however, I had a lot of fun learning about the obstacles and advantages from different living environments. I am glad that my research might be able to help other students make a decision on where they might want to live in the future. All of this research paid off for me in the end. I was able to gather information that would help other students out on what they wanted to do with their future living situation.
After observing students who function in both living environments I was able to give a list of pros and cons of each living situation. Being able to get a better understanding on the pros and cons of each living situation is beneficial for people who want to acquire more. If a student wants to make more friends in a tighter community then they would probably choose the option to dorm on campus. However, if a student does not want to follow a resident assistants rules they would choose the option to live off campus. The research and data I collected over the weeks of observation really can come in good use for planning the future.