High school graduation is a momentous occasion-a time when young adults sprout their wings and take their best shot at life. Sprouting wings entails a new sense of independence. How should our living arrangements reflect this new stage of life?
Does moving away from home show that we are truly grown up? Or should we spend more time maturing under our parent’s mentoring and protection before we leave the nest? Does turning eighteen automatically trigger full-fledged adulthood, or must we earn that privilege? Is moving away during college the right choice for everyone?
As I prepare to start college full time this fall, I have been forced to ask myself these tough questions. Finding the answers is not always easy, but it is constructive and advantageous to plan ahead. While each student’s situation will be different, here are several of the factors that played into my decision to live at home during college.
The Expense of Living on Campus
As a new adult, we should want to start contributing more than we take. But contributing more than we take does not necessarily entail moving away from home. In fact, staying at home could relieve our family of a significant financial burden.
Living on campus can be outrageously expensive. According to the website My College Guide, “Students at public schools can expect to pay an average of $8,887 and those at private schools will pay an average of $10,089 per year. These prices are for dorms on campus.”
You can help your family financially even without actively earning a salary by cutting college costs as much as possible. You could also avoid extra student loan debt by remaining at home during college.
Denying Adult Responsibility
For some young adults, living on campus is a way to entirely avoid responsibility. This is what USA Today has to say about living in the dorms, “In reality, dorms are more like all-inclusive resorts than houses of horror. Dorms allow students to delay the responsibilities of adulthood for a few more years and fully experience college.”
Wait, “delay the responsibilities of adulthood”?
The article goes on to explain how most dorms have complimentary house cleaning. That way, you can be free from vacuuming and scrubbing your own bathroom for four years of your adult life. Isn’t this a step backwards? Most children are expected to help with housework, but suddenly you transfer to a college campus and those responsibilities disappear? As a college freshman, your chore responsibilities should not dissipate entirely!
The USA Today article also featured, “ultimate entertainment centers” as a reason to live on campus. Recreation is a necessary part of life, but are we talking about eight year olds or eighteen year olds? Do we really need someone to provide entertainment spaces for us? Perhaps college dorms are failing to prepare their students for the real, adult life that faces them after graduation.
The attitude behind our actions must be evaluated.
Whether we chose to stay at home or move out during college, we must take the time to analyze the rationale behind our choices. If we are staying at home because we want our parents to coddle and care for us, then we have the wrong attitude. On the flip side, if we are moving away from home because we are trying to distance ourselves from responsibility, then that’s also a problem.
We should be actively contributing to our families, no matter what age or stage of life we are in. In this stage of life, we should become independent in that we take responsibility for our actions and as young adults contribute more than we take.
Choosing to stay at home does not mean that we lack the toughness to move away from our family. Whether you stay at home or move away for college, I would encourage you to fully consider all the options and weigh the costs and benefits before making a commitment. And most importantly, wherever we find ourselves, we must continually strive to grow into fruitful young adults who glorify God with our decisions and conduct.