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I appealed for on-campus housing for my junior year here at Boston College. A rather complicated set of circumstances led me to raise my hand for consideration in the undoubtedly large pool of applicants gunning for a spot on during the 2016-2017 school year. There was an high chance that I wouldn’t get it, yet I was waitlisted in November and eventually got an assignment in August.
Unlike freshman and sophomore year, where everyone clearly knows where they stand within the housing hierarchy, there is an actual argument for the options presented during junior year: on-campus vs. off-campus. It’s a battle of valid points and thought-provoking opinions that come from both sides of the fence. As I sat atop that fence, leaning to one side but refusing to fall, many friends pondered why I was willing to wait until the last minute for something not guaranteed. Why do that when I could have just lived off-campus? I tried to explain it every way possible, but it always ended in the same simplified answer: I didn’t want to live away from campus.
It is with shame that I admit to being seduced by the thought of living on Lower. Close access to everything that I had to cross middle-campus for last year (and ride a bus to freshman year) was something I convinced myself I deserved. During the appeal process, I dreamed about approaching campus from a whole new angle, emerging from the top of the million-dollar stairs instead of looking down at them. Thankfully, this dream came true.
Without a doubt, the single largest benefit to spending a fourth year on campus is convenience. While off-campus living more often than not requires a bus to reach campus if one doesn't wish to endure the elements, there is a reasonable walk to nearly every major highlight of BC from Lower. In the blink of an eye, you can be at Hillside, O’Neill, the Plex, Conte, or Alumni. It’s true that getting to classes requires scaling the million dollar stairs or vying for a spot on the Maloney elevator, but nine out of ten off-campus students face these elements too—with a bus ride or additional ten minute walk already under their belt.
Additionally, living on Lower is the middle ground between our beautiful campus and off-campus amenities. Most, if not all, juniors living on-campus know someone who resides off. These are places we will venture to constantly, whether it be for a homemade dinner, to hang out with friends, or to embark on weekend excursions. Juniors who live on Lower (or even better, 2000) are closer to the off-campus scene than students on Upper and CoRo are to Lower.
On-campus housing offers the perfect middle ground between off-campus living and the hustle and bustle of the Heights. But, perfect is a subjective term.
“To each his own” is a clichéd phrase, but it only achieved this status through decades of accurately describing what it means for two sides to have valid arguments. In this sense, I would be lying if I said I don’t understand why off-campus life is so appealing.
For starters, the epicenter of junior year social life lies somewhere deep within the crossroads of Radnor, Foster, and Gerald. Mix that together with free parking, a less expensive overall housing option, and no worries about random room checks, and one can begin to see the attractive final product: independence.
Off-campus living allows a sense of freedom that students could touch but not grasp during our first two years at BC. While still being affiliated with Boston College, off-campus students live a life that doesn’t depend on the University for their basic survival needs. It’s a taste of the independence that students will experience when they are pushed off the plank senior year and tossed into the vast and ominous real world. A Flex Plan, Gold Pass, and the always-running Comm. Ave bus keep them connected, but it is up to each student to decide how tightly they hold onto this connection.
This type of freedom isn’t necessarily what I signed up for coming to college. Part of the fun of college is living in a way we have never lived and will never live again. Packed into a 338-acre campus with almost 10,000 people in a small age range all studying at the same school is an experience that can only be had here. It’s about four years of living with best friends, making stupid decisions and learning from them, not getting enough sleep, and preparing for the expansive future ahead.
I only have four years here and I want to spend them living on-campus. I have the rest of my life to live somewhere other than BC.
This is all a part of what makes BC, BC. Most of my friends from high school and relatives who went to college only lived on campus for a year or two. Diverging from the norm, BC brings its students together by giving a minimum of three years of on-campus housing. Forcing the population to eat in dining halls, exercise in the Plex, work in the library, and live in residence halls together unites all Eagles. Cheesy as it all may sound, this aspect of the culture here was one of the more appealing factors that drew me into BC in the first place.
Preference of on- vs. off-campus life junior year depends heavily on the individual. Some people flourish off-campus while others, like myself, enjoy the comfort and community of spending all four years in the BC bubble. Regardless of inclination, there is an ease to on-campus life that simply is not mirrored elsewhere.