Living at home while attending college needs to be the norm. Instead, many students envision a stereotypical college experience from the movies where their parents drop them off at their dorm. Dad is offering some last words of advice and wisdom as mom cries while she reminds you to brush your teeth daily and to be safe. Bursting with pride that you made it to higher education, they get you settled into your new home. After saying goodbye, they drive away to leave you to navigate the wonders and challenges of college life.
Slam on the brakes, let’s come to a screeching halt, back to reality. For the majority of college students, that’s not how it happens. Most students need to be practical and spending tens of thousands of dollars on a dorm and meal plan is far from feasible. The expense of room and board is one of the biggest reasons why students are graduating with mass amounts of debt. We need to move away from this notion of the college experience to something more realistic. Students should live at home while attending college.
You Don’t Have To Live On Campus
Living on campus is absolutely not necessary. In some cases, it’s not even an option. If you are attending community college, which I highly recommend you do, dorms are not an option because the majority don’t have them.
You don’t need to live on campus to get the college experience either. You can make friends and get involved with campus groups and clubs. Make an effort to be more active on campus. Attend campus events, such as sports games, go to the campus gym, and see a guest lecture or volunteer. Just because you don’t live there, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy these opportunities and experiences.
Independence And Freedom While Living At Home
I know you’re thinking, what about your independence? You may believe that living on campus helps you make the transition to being an independent, self-sufficient young adult. I’m here to tell you, that transition is possible while living at home. Sometimes it’s preferred.
For many students, it’s a smoother transition with fewer bumps along the way. Many freshmen get caught up or overindulge in partying, staying up too late, drinking, using drugs, and having sex. Ultimately, these behaviors may have a negative effect on their studies, friendships, employment, and even scholarship opportunities. Some students are just not ready for that type of environment, others simply don’t want to be around it.
If your parents are generous enough not to ask for rent, you can still contribute in some way. Find ways to contribute by doing the dishes, doing your own laundry, and cleaning up after pets or younger siblings. This will not only help them and cover some of your expenses, but it’s a good way to start getting on a budget, learning responsibility, and how to manage your money. This will establish your role in the home as another adult.
It’s pretty simple. Do more and your parents will enjoy having you at home. Most parents want to support you if you are going to college. Behave like an adult, you will be treated like an adult.
The main reason for living at home during college is to save money. Dorms are expensive, and they’re not getting any cheaper. According to Collegedata.com, for the year 2022, the average cost of a public 4-year university for a student living on campus in a dorm pays an average of $11,303 annually. In the first year of school, you can easily save approximately $11,000 by living at home and commuting to school.
I easily saved $22,000 living at home while attending college. At my college, California State University Sacramento, it costs around $15,000 a year to live on campus in the dorms. I lived at home for the year and a half it took me to earn my bachelor’s degree. I probably saved another $5,000 in food, groceries, and laundry. In total, I saved $27,000.
Instead of spending tens of thousands, the money I saved I put away for my future. My semesters were full-loads, that’s how I graduated early. I also worked, those paychecks I put away to pay for the next semester’s tuition. I also had a little extra spending money to do affordable fun things.
Pinch your pennies during this time. It might be tempting to spend but remember that one of the main reasons you’re living at home is to save money. Don’t lose sight of this as you proceed through college.
Living At Home Is Better For Your Health
Have you heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15”? This term is used to describe the weight that many freshmen gain during their first year of college. The weight gain is often attributed to eating a lot of fast food, all-you-can-eat dining hall options, increased alcohol consumption, and not-so-healthy choices around campus.
When you live at home your eating habits are the same. Your meals are typically more structured. You’re most likely not snacking at 3 am on chips, pizza, burgers, fries, and soda. Homemade meals are often healthier overall. They are more nutritious, have lower calories, and are less expensive. Living at home during college has health benefits too.
I went to class, to work, and studied a lot. When I had downtime, I enjoyed being alone. I needed it. It was restorative and the key to me not becoming too stressed or burned out. Living on campus, you’re constantly surrounded by people, it’s always busy. It’s often hard to keep focused and on task because someone is always in your space. Many students need a break from all the commotion. I was able to find solitude at home. I could go for a walk, sit in the yard, quietly read a book, hang out in my room, snuggle up with a pet, and not be interrupted. It is easy to have alone time while living at home and going to college.
Support While Living At Home
Another benefit was support. Since I was so busy, I found that I needed the support of my family, not just financially but emotionally too. They were instrumental in my success. My family encouraged and motivated me, proofread papers, and helped me study, they were a sounding board when I was frustrated, and when I was overwhelmed, they reminded me of my goals and how strong and determined I was. They celebrated a good grade, a job well done, and another semester down. They were always there, present and engaged and it was beneficial in so many ways.
Making a Game Plan With Your Parents
When you decide on living at home during college, there should be a well-thought-out conversation between you and your parents. Even though you’re not leaving home, things are still changing. It’s best to have a game plan.
Financial obligations might change slightly when you graduate high school and start college. Personally, I feel young adults living at home should contribute financially in some way. This is part of the transition to being self-sufficient. It also shows a level of maturity, trust me you want your parents to see you as a young mature adult. Help with the groceries, pay your gas, car insurance, or even your portion of your cell phone bill. Find out what your parents expect from you and what you can offer them.
It’s important to know what your parents expect of you. Besides any financial obligations, is there housework or other chores they want you to be responsible for? How do they expect you to help out? Do they expect you to continue to check in with them or let them know if you’re not coming home?
I always checked in with my parents, I felt like it was a courtesy. A quick text to let them know I made it to campus or to work safely. If I was staying late after class, I’d let them know. I didn’t want them to worry, hold dinner or stay up late. I respected that they worried.
Better Now Than Later
After graduation, I saw many of my classmates move back home because they couldn’t afford to live on their own. They had acquired a lot of student loan debt or were unemployed. Living at home now may mean you don’t have to do it later, it’s much harder to move back after you’ve been out on your own for years.
If you are smart and choose one of the best college majors, when you graduate, you will find a high-paying job quickly. You will be beginning your career without dept. Financially; you will be years ahead of your peers. This means you will get a jump on a successful profession, buying a home, starting a family, traveling, and doing all the things you want to do. According to Educationaldata.org, in 2021, the average length of time it takes to pay off a student loan is 20 years. This number is staggering. 20 years after I graduate, I want to have a beautiful home, a family, and a thriving life, I don’t want to be paying the same bill for decades.
Get The Most Out Of Living At Home
This is the time you’ll be learning your independence. You can help out around the house, go to school, and work. Be smart, don’t take advantage of your situation by being lazy. This is your time to save money and get ahead. Your parents may be the type to still be willing to cook all the meals, clean, grocery shop, and do laundry, but don’t let them. Now is your chance to learn those skills, if you haven’t already, to become a more independent person.
Sensei Side Note:
Bushido is the code of honor and morals developed and passed down by Japanese samurai meaning “warrior way” or “the way of the warrior.” This should be your basic code of conduct, leading with righteousness, courage, compassion, respect, truthfulness, honor, loyalty, and self-control. Bushido is deeply ingrained into martial arts training but extends to all aspects of life.
I want you to implement bushido when you live at home with your parents. Act with integrity and respect them. Be compassionate, show your love, and appreciate all they do for you. Have the courage and confidence to overcome any challenges you face at home. Maintain your honor and loyalty with truthfulness, honesty directly corresponds with maturity and dependability. Self-control is crucial in all things, self-control allows you to define what is important and resist many of the negative things that might lead you to fail, self-control also enables you to live by the code.
Be The Best Version Of Yourself
Living with Bushido is how you will reach your full potential. It will be a reflection of your integrity. Through honor, you grow and develop as a student, as a family member, as a friend, as an employee, as a partner, and as a person.