Off Campus Student: Tips to Handle Life in a New City
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest post by Brooke Chaplan
Living off-campus provides several challenges for students, but can come with a host of benefits that can make your college life more enjoyable and fulfilling. If you’re living in a new city, all the challenges you face may seem especially daunting at first. Luckily, with the right attitude and by properly planning for emergencies, you can have a rewarding off-campus experience. Consider these suggestions to make that transition easier, cheaper and safer.
For a few dollars per month, you can insure your property against fire or theft. Often, a rental policy will protect items that you take outside of your apartment like your laptop or bicycle. It can also help to protect you against liability. This is great if your apartment isn’t in a great neighborhood and you can’t be protected by dorm rules and regulations.
If you own a car, try to get more than the minimum coverage. A serious accident could financially devastate you for years. You should also be prepared with knowledge on defensive driving and what to do if you are in a car accident. In case you are in a serious accident, you should hire a lawyer. They generally offer free consultations, and most won’t take your case unless they know they can win.
Live Below Your Means
Don’t spring for that extra room when you are living by yourself. Find an apartment in a safe location, but avoid pushing your budget to the limit. You’ll be surprised how much the small expenses really begin to add up. It’s not just food and gas you’ll have to worry about, but you’ll need money to replace air filters, cleaning supplies, and other maintenance items.
Learn the Public Transit System
Even if you have a car, the public transit system is your friend. If you’re out late at a bar, you don’t want to get caught driving home drunk. A simple bus ride only costs a little, but it can get you home safely. Find out about any programs that will drive you and your car home from a bar for free. These programs usually exist in big cities and can also be great for commuting to school and avoiding expensive gas prices.
Use online versions of word processing programs when possible. When you’re living in a new city, you never know where you’re going to need to access that crucial final essay for one of your classes. This also protects you in the event that your computer is lost or stolen. Online word processors provide all the functionality you’ll need for most classes and will back up your files on the cloud.
Living in a new city is an exciting experience but you need to be prepared. Have an exit strategy in place, and talk with your parents to see if there is any option to help you get home quickly if it’s needed.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.