Are you, like thousands of other college students, waiting to get the word that classes are about to start again on campus?

That will be an exciting day. But even though you are eager to get to campus, we would like to ask you . . .

Do you think that moving into a dormitory will be safe?

Of course you are eager to do it, but have you stopped to consider that living in a dorm could expose you to the coronavirus, especially if the virus returns in a “second wave” of infections. Some dorms, even if they are routinely and properly cleaned, can be unsafe because . . .

  • Dozens, and maybe even hundreds, of other students will be coming and going from your dorm
  • Common rooms, bathrooms, kitchenettes, elevators (if present) and other shared areas will be used by many of them
  • If one or two people in a dorm become ill, the disease can spread quickly to other students who live in the building

When you consider those issues, you start to see that even though you are eager to return to campus, moving back into a dorm might not be the smartest option. But alternatives are available, some costing less than the residence fee that your college is planning to charge you. Let’s consider some of them.

Option One: A Room or a Suite in an Extended Stay Hotel Near Campus

Take a look at what is available. Depending on the design of the building, you could be exposed to only a handful of other people who reside in the same building. (Some residence hotels allow residents to come and go from their rooms directly from outdoors, without passing through common areas indoors.) Plus, this is a “buyer’s market” and you can bargain for reduced rent because fewer people are traveling on business and extended hotels need to fill their rooms. Plus, rooms are furnished, have TVs and Wi-Fi and kitchen areas. They can be an attractive alternative to a dorm.

One consideration? If you are just starting college and are new to campus, life off-campus in a hotel can be lonely. But if that is not the case, it can be an attractive choice.

Option Two: A Room in a Private Home Near Campus

If your college is located in a suburban or rural area, a number of options could be available to you. To find a room, check with your college’s housing office, or check real estate listings in Craigslist and other local resources.

A rented room could be a safe alternative to a room in a dorm, depending on the layout of the house where your rent. It could dramatically decrease your exposure to other students and could cost less than a dorm room.

One consideration? Check exit routes to and from the room you are considering. And be sure there are functioning smoke detectors on every level. If you are not sure what to look for, speak with the fire department in the town where you will live and ask for advice on how to assure fire safety in the house you are considering.

Option Three: A Furnished Apartment Near Campus

You can rent an apartment by yourself or if the layout works, share it with a roommate to cut your costs. If your school year will be shortened because of the virus, try to negotiate a month-by-month rental rather than a year lease. And depending on the layout of the building, you could have less exposure to other students than you would have in a dorm.

And then there is always . . . continuing to live at home

Depending on the distance between your family’s home and campus, this can be a cost-cutting option to consider. (Even if your commute to campus would be as much as an hour, the money you save could make it a good option.) And if this school year will be reduced in length, perhaps cut to one semester, you might be able to accept the inconvenience.

Plus you might be able to take the money you save and use it to buy or lease a really nice new car. Your parents might not see that as an option. But you can always try, right? If you tell your parents you are only trying to be healthy, that could add a bit of credibility to your argument.

We Invite You to Explore Your College & Career Options with Us. . .

Participate in the National Career & College Pathway Study to gain new insights about making educational decisions that align with your interests, passions, and aptitudes. Participants will receive information on college and career opportunities that match their interests.

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