For most students at the College, the most important day of spring is the day the housing lottery information is posted. As students take a look at the list, they have mixed reactions. The freshmen have it pretty easy, because if they get numbers between 555 and 612, they still know they will be living on campus, even if it will be in the worst residence halls. For sophomores and juniors, though, it’s a completely different story.
Everyone knows the College only guarantees housing for a student’s first two years on campus. After that, it’s either get lucky or get packing. If you don’t make the housing lottery for your junior and senior years, it’s up to you to find a place to live.
That’s just what happened to Stacey Patton, math and secondary education major, Vanessa Ulbrecht, graphic design major and Terri Hackney, art education major, three seniors who are currently living off campus for a second year.
Patton, Ulbrecht and Hackney met each other when they lived on the same floor their freshmen year. They got along so well that they lived in a suite together their sophomore year. But their perfect on-campus living arrangement couldn’t last forever. According to the girls, realizing that they didn’t make the housing lottery was not one of their happiest moments.
“I cried,” Patton said. “I was mad, but then the anger turned to sadness. I didn’t want to have to move off campus.”
As luck would have it, the girls ended up catching a break because Patton’s roommate from freshmen year was looking for tenants with whom she could share a house. The girls started moving their stuff into the house over the summer and were ready to start their junior year at the end of August 2003.
“It was a fun, new experience,” Patton said. “All of our friends who still lived on campus would come here because we were the only ones who lived off campus.” Even with all the initial excitement, the roommates still had some adjusting to do. For example, they had to deal with things they had taken for granted while living on campus – like proximity to their classes.
“I missed the convenience of being able to walk to class,” Hackney said.
“Terri and I got yelled at for being late to class because we could never find parking due to all the construction issues,” Ulbrecht said.
Besides that, the girls had to deal with being away from their friends and classmates.
“I missed just having my door open and seeing a lot of different people walk by all day,” Patton said.
As time went on, however, the girls grew to enjoy living off campus.
“It definitely took some getting used to, but we liked it,” Ulbrecht said. “We could have people over all the time to hang out or throw parties.”
After getting used to doing their own thing for a year, the girls decided to stay off campus for their senior year. However, they had to get a new place because their fourth roommate was going abroad, therefore causing them to need a place for just three. This proved to be a difficult task because most places accomodate four or six roommates.
“We all drove around looking for different places,” Patton said.
“I called at least 10 people looking for housemates,” Hackney said about their search.
Then one day, Patton heard that a new apartment complex was opening up near the College. She called and soon the girls had found themselves a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
Although the apartment is a little farther from campus than the house they lived in, the girls are very happy with their living arrangement this year.
“This place is brand new,” Patton said. “The house had more of a college atmosphere, but this is much nicer. We have central air and two bathrooms for three girls, which is really nice.”
According to the girls, one of the best parts about living off campus is that they don’t have to deal with campus food. Although they are all on different schedules, they enjoy being able to do their own thing when it comes to eating.
“We like being able to buy our own stuff and make our own dinner,” Ulbrecht said.
Even now, Patton, Ulbrecht and Hackney don’t feel they are missing out on anything because they each still spend a lot of time on campus.
“Some days you have breaks and you don’t feel like coming home, so you just find a spot in the student center to pass the time or do your work,” Patton said.
The girls said they are happy to have shared their living experiences with each other for the past few years.
“We’ve gone through different stages of living together. We lived on campus, we lived in a house and now we’re living in an apartment,” Ulbrecht said.
“It’s neat, we’re seniors now and we can say we’ve been together all four years,” Patton said.