As of Thanksgiving, I have been finishing my first semester classes from home. It's been an interesting experience to say the least. I went from doing all of my work in my dorm room with only my roommate as a distraction and now I'm home where I have a younger sibling who might need my help sometimes as well as friends who are also home and want to go out. As much fun as that all is, it can sometimes become too much because I am not always the best at time management. However, it can also be more beneficial when I need to talk to someone because I have all of the people that know me in close proximity. Both, being home, and being at school, have pros and cons which I had to think about as I decided whether I wanted to return to college on campus in the spring semester.
One of the major benefits of being on campus is that I have less distraction. Most of that is because of Coronavirus, but I believe that even without it, I would be less distracted on campus. There are multiple places that I can go and study if I don't feel like being in my room. The library has private study rooms that students can use to get work done, and if the weather is nice, the Student Center has outdoor seating. There are also other places, but because of the virus, the places are more limited.
Also, being on campus has allowed me to become more independent. It is my responsibility to keep my grades up, make sure that I am attending classes, and keeping myself healthy. However, I am close enough to family that if I needed anything, someone would be able to help me. The problem with this year is that because my college is in a northern state, there are less amenities like the dorm kitchens and lounges open.
Living on campus for my first semester has also raised the chances that I become a Resident Assistant. When attending informational meetings and speaking with my RA individually, they said that it would be more likely that someone who had lived on campus for at least one semester previous would get an RA position than someone who hadn't. This is due to the fact that a RA's job is to help acclimate students to campus life. They should be able to give at least basic directions and maybe advice on places on campus as well as resources and other information. Though they might be more lenient this year, I do believe that staying on campus would provide a slight advantage.
There are also resources that are easier to access on campus. For those with special needs, there is a testing center with technologies that a student may not have access to at home as well as people that will scribe and read if the student receives that accommodation. The testing center can be accessed virtually, but it is much easier in person. There are also opportunities for some students to attend in person classes. If you are able, in person class can provide a way to have easier and better communication with professors as well as peers.
The best part of being on campus is that you are more able to be involved in community. There are live events to attend like movie nights, food trucks and picnics dedicated to each major. At those events and more, you can meet new people and get involved in even more. For me, Rowan's Newman club (where all the Catholic Profs go) is one of the clubs I really got into this semester. I went there and got to meet a group of people who shared at least one thing in common with me, and who were all very open. Newman ended up being one of the things I enjoyed most about the semester. That along with the Improfs (improv club) which I went to a few outdoor meetings, have helped me become a little more open to trying new things and meeting new people. Staying on campus is what allowed for that to happen.
Yet, as much as I enjoyed my first semester, I am spending my second semester at home. The reason is that I don't want to spend the second semester the same way as my first. I got to do amazing things, but I want to do more. I want to be able to experience in person classes, more in person events, and even small things like being able to hang out with people indoors. From what I have gathered about my next semester, I won't be able to do that.
At home, I will take my classes online, the same way I did at school. Because I'm at home, I'll have my own room which means that I should be less distracted. This also means that I can be totally comfortable in my own space. I know where everything is and I don't have to worry about sharing it with another person, no matter how great that person is.
While at home, I am also able to save money for future semesters. Because I don't have to pay for room and board, I can budget and plan. I can get a job as well so that I have more to work with. At the moment, it is easier to get a job closer to home because there are less people on campus which means less need for jobs and internships. However, when I do go back in the fall, I will be able to use whatever experiences I get now for jobs that I get later in college and afterward.
For a lot of people, being on campus is the best of the two options, and I agree. There are more opportunities for community and personal growth and there are experiences that you get on campus that are hard to replicate online. However, it is different for every person and no one experience is more true than another. What every college student needs to do is find what works for them.