Living at college


My daughter will be starting college in the fall. The school is not far from our home, maybe 40 minutes by train. It is in a pretty bad neighborhood, but the college has a very skilled security staff. My daughter would like to live on campus, rather than commute everyday. She would be living in the honors dorm. She also said she would like to come home on weekends, as she is very involved in our parish.

I know most people are into the college “experience”. However, I don’t generalize life like that. Also, I have seen so many good kids go off to college and get into situations that are pretty tough to navigate for adults, much less 18 year olds. For example, a mom telling me a catholic college that provides busing to local clubs for under 21 year old students.

My daughter is a nice kid, and we LOVE her and want what is best for her, but I am not sure that living on campus is best. I am pretty old fashioned and would like to see my kids, especially girls, at home with mom and dad until they are married or at least financially secure.

This is a really tough situation for our family. I don’t think my daughter has one friend who isn’t going away for college, and I guess she feels like society assumes that is the next logical step. I remind her society makes a lot of poor assumptions these days.

We are really praying on this as a family and would like to know if anyone has input that might help.


When I went to Uni I stayed at home BUT I did sleep over at my h2b’s and other friends a LOT mainly because my uni was 1hr drive away and to get to a 9am lecture i would need to be setting of at 730 - not really the student way!!!

I think that getting a dorm for the week is probably better for her - it gives her the opportunity t be close to all the facilities - library, tutors etc AND it gives her the chance to socialise this is important. I think that you have to trust your daughter and give her the chance if after the first year it doesnt work dont pay for her second but at least give it a shot!


I guess the main question here is “Do you trust your daughter?”

Do you trust that you have raised her well in the faith? Do you trust her judgment, responsibility, and well-formed conscience?

Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t think or talk about this sooner. What sort of school is it? Public? Private? Catholic? What is the residential life like? Is it a big commuter school? All of these can have a big impact on one’s life on campus. There’s an unhealthy subculture to every college campus–but then again, I’d say American culture at large is pretty unhealthy. She has to learn how to deal with it at some point.

I am a college student. My life on campus at a Catholic university has been nothing but fruitful. I have lived in a single-sex dorm (with rather strictly enforced visiting hours for the opposite sex). I have made wonderful friends that I don’t think I could have if I were a commuter student, only seeing others in my classes and attending as if this were high school. I haven’t gotten involved in the drinking or “hook-up” culture, but I have had a lot of fun!

There is something about a residential learning community that is just different–you really feel a part of it. There are great groups and clubs here which have tons of activities. Campus ministry at a Catholic college or a Newman Center at any other school should provide some good options for prayer groups, retreats, Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and fun social activities. I’m involved with the Right to Life group here, which sponsors all sorts of activities, from praying at the abortion clinic to lectures by faculty on life issues to dances and game nights. Granted, this is not how it is everywhere, and I have no idea where your daughter will be matriculating, but these are my thoughts as I near the end of my undergrad…

I do not believe that it is *just *a societal norm to go off to school–it is a major transition point in one’s life. Living away from home as an adult (at 18 she is an adult–not 21, even if that is the drinking age) is a big step towards independence, self-sufficiency and maturity. Is anyone ever fully prepared to take that leap? Not really. We make mistakes along the way, but we get back up when we fall, get ourselves to Confession, and learn from them. It’s part of growing up. Unless your daughter has major maturity issues which have been evidenced by past behavior, it is probably time for her to start off on the adventure of adulthood. If she doesn’t now, when will she?

What does your daughter think about all this? Does she *really *want to go away (for her own reasons–give her credit for that; don’t just assume she wants to do what all her friends are doing) to school? Or is she more ambivalent? All of us are nervous about moving away from home and not knowing anybody…but we make it through, with our faith intact.

For what it’s worth, my acquaintances who have lived at home during college have felt they had much less fulfilling college careers than those who went away for the whole “experience”. I’m not talking about something shallow, but a very real transition that allows us to have the independence as young adults that we need, and that lets us explore new and various interests, make new friends, and maybe even do a few crazy things (like staying in the library until closing time with friends, wandering the dorm in search of a DVD, trekking out for a coffee break at 2am in our PJs, or having those ‘deep’ conversations with friends through the night).

Trust your daughter. She’s a grown-up–and I’m sure a good Catholic one, at that! Forty minutes away isn’t far at all!


The further and longer she is away from you the more likely she is to be attracted to the wrong kind of things, but you can’t protect her from everything. She has to make a choice as well, in the face of evil, and peer pressure.

My parents have had differing reactions to me living away and at home. My mom preferred me out of the house, and my dad couldn’t stand it. For my final year (see sig) I’ve been living at home which my dad loves, but my mom dislikes.

If your daughter rejects much of what her colleagues will be doing, it can get very lonely on campus, especially if she has never lived away from home before. My trip to university is about 45 mins by car, but its well worth it to be with my family, and to not have those long evenings with only four walls and books for company.

Having said that, I gained invaluable experience both in my first year on campus, and my second year renting a house.

I think its important for her to make her own decisions, and also her own mistakes. If she is coming home for weekends, then, although the weeks will be tough without her, it might be a good experience for her, learning to stand on her own two feet, and learning how to express her faith in a faithless world.

If the 40 mins is manageable, I’m sure she’ll be back in the second year, living at home, and enjoying those nice home-cooked meals :wink:


It never came up before, she has always wanted to stay home and commute. The fact that everyone in her class is going away might have something to do with it. It is a public school, co-ed floors, and I went there (commuter). There was a lot of sex going on in the dorms then, I bet it hasn’t gotten better


It would be impossible to go for a coffee break at 2 am, the neighborhood this college is in is in a word dangerous. The city at one point had the highest murder rate in the country, and the area this college is in was one of the most dangerous. No kidding.


I went to a college that was very much a commuter college. I choose to live in the dorms. I actually got my parents to allow me to live in a co-ed dorm because there were problems with the female dorms like more break ins and diseases going around. Overall, I loved the experience. Look into crime stats of the dorms before you choose one… you may find the co-ed ones safer like I did.

BTW… My campus was 10 miles from parents place. They initially wanted me to live at home but I chose campus because the way chores and responsibilities were in my parents house. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was exam week… if it was my turn for dishes…kwim?


Is this her only option for colleges? Have you taken a tour of the campus to see their dorms (things probably have changed since you went there) and to ask lots of questions about their programs and safety?
It’s hard for random people on a message board to know whether a particular college is safe or not based on a single opinion of someone who went there 20 years ago, kwim?

I’m sure that things have changed at my college, and I only graduated 7 years ago! And, just a decade before I attended college there were massive fears… remember Danny Rollings at UF? Yeah… things can REALLY change in a few years. I felt extremely safe.

I’m all for making wise decisions… but be open. Do your research properly… take the tours and ask these questions to the right people!


I’ve done both, went to a community college my 1st 2 years of college and then transferred to a 4 yr school for a year and 1/2 and lived on campus at that time. I managed to make good and not so great choices both while living at home and living on campus. I enjoyed my time at home, my youngest sibling was born the year I started college so staying home and being around him for those 2 years was great, and I made friends with the people I worked with and the people in in my classes. I did have fun on campus too, and I learned ALOT, about myself. There is a lot of friendships to be made and growing to do while living on campus. Its a nice transition from parents house to on your own after graduation.

And yes some college kids have sex in the dorms, some drink and drive, some do just about anything you can think of, but not all. Trust that you have instilled in you daughter the ability to make good moral decisions.

The safety issue - if you are as worried about the area as you are, is it safe to commute. How is she going to get from the train to campus? Walk, a taxi? What if she needs to be on campus late for seminar or a meeting or to research in the library, would she not be able to do these things because it wouldn’t be safe for her to travel home?


Heavens!! I’d find a different school.


Full scholarship+books and automatic admittance to the medical school at this college. High speed train stop a block from campus and parking lots on campus. My daughter wanted a big city school with a big city hospital. I attended this school and it was bad then, but I was from a pretty bad neighborhood myself so I think in a way I was better off, but in another way not being raised with a strong faith I was worse off. This college has the third largest police staff in our state.
This shift in living on campus came up just a few weeks ago. My daughter has a good head on her shoulders, but she is 18 and what all of her friends are doing plus the ever popular “don’t your parents trust you?” probably contributed to her change of heart. She talks about the opportunities she would have there, like working in a lab and study groups.


living on campus is a must! :smiley: trust me, I spent my first semester at college living with my mom and it was the most depressing thing I could’ve done. It’s a real downer to walk around campus knowing you’re the only one who’s NOT going through what everyone else is. Also, if you’re not on campus anyway you’ll find less motivation to go there when u need to (I skipped almost every day of class, never got involved in any clubs, didn’t make too many friends) overall it was a really bad situation. Even stupid little things, like knowing I was the only kid who wasn’t being annoyed by a roomate, wasn’t having to eat dorm food, wasn’t having to deal with noisy people on the floor upstairs, doing laundry in the public space, etc etc really makes a kid feel left out. Also living in the dorms helps you meet so many new people whereas just dirivng up to campus for a few hours a day and leaving doesn’t offer too much room for new friends. Overall, I’d even say living on campus or not is the difference between succeeding in college and not.
I left my mom’s place and transferred to a college some distance away. I moved into the dorm and went through the real college experience. My grades shot up, I actually attended class daily, got involved in clubs, made many new friends, and all the like. of course, there were many temptations and invitations to drink, party, hit smutty night clubs and all the like (I gave in to temptation more than once :blush:) but that’s not the point. The point is that college isn’t just about sitting in a classroom for 50 minutes and taking notes (although that is a huge part of it) College is a psychological step for a child where they go out into the world and try to survive.
Oh and for the record, statistically people who live on campus get MUCh better grades than kids who don’t.


I only commuted to a school 50 minutes away for 6 weeks because of a summer class. I was EXHAUSTED everyday because of it. Looking at the commuters at my school, a lot of them do not take part in the college community because they are unable to do so. They also have a much more difficult time coming back to school for review sessions that are generally held after night classes are done. I wasn’t able to commute to my school as I live 6 hours away from home (I chose the school specifically so that living at home wasn’t even a possibility). Although the school you’re describing sounds very similar to one back home, where it’s a very good place to go, but in a terrible area. My experience though is that at schools like that, the police staff does do their job very well. If she’s aware of the very real dangers that are very close to her school, I would let her live on campus if it’s affordable.


I went to college in the ghetto and survived. Many of the older schools have had the neighborhoods change around them. I would not necessarily let that be a determining factor. We took the train to better neighborhoods, hung out, and had a great time.

My advice is this… she’s a grownup and she has to start making these choices for herself. Better she learn in a somewhat structured and sheltered environment like college than out in the full-fledged real world. She will face many temptations, and she will have to deal with them. Let go, Mom. And don’t be surprised if her desire to come home on weekends slacks off. Ideally, she should find the Catholic student group and a parish there to get involved in. She needs to start living her own life and defining herself.


Is this in Gary by any chance?

I have similar concerns with where my dd1 will be going this year(not Gary)-she is starting in the summer term. I don’t like the city it’s in period (and I grew up in Gary, if that tells you anything). Dh says we just need to trust that we have taught her good christian morals/ethics and that she is strong enough to stick by them. She does have friends there at one of the parishes, so I am sure that will help.


I’m currently a freshman in college around 700 miles away from home. I can honestly say this year has been a GREAT experience for me - I’ve not only learned more about people in general, but I’ve also gained a deal of maturity too. It’s very tempting to let your work slide when it’s just you in a dorm and no parents forcing you to do it -you learn a great deal about time management skills.

Will things you disagree happen on campus? Yes, absolutely. But if you’ve instilled in your daughter the morals you want her to have, she’ll be fine.

There is definitely a large distinction between commuter students and residential students at my school. The commuters never come to campus to “hang out”, just to attend their classes. I’ve also noticed they don’t really have the opportunity to develop social circles, and as someone already pointed out, they are more likely to skip because they can’t just roll out of bed in their pajamas and run to class. :wink:

I would say let her go - the world after college isn’t going to be any safer or prettier than it is now, and I’ve found the interim between high school and the “real” world provided by college is a great way to gain necessary skills for life. :slight_smile:


Be concerned about campus safety! The numbers the school has are easily manipulated. The school can easily quiet accusations, deal with things without calling the police at all, pressure students into dropping charges, categorizing crimes under other names (e.g. rape gets turned into harrassment) and report to out of district police depts. so they don’t have to record it.

See if the college has a summer highschool semester or a visiting week. Have your daughter spend that week on campus in a dorm. Have her try to visit all dorms, not just the one they choose for her. Have her eat at all the cafeterias, visit all the buildings, talk to students, deal directly with faculty and employees, etc. That is really the only way to get an accurate idea of safety, campus rules, employee competence, policies, atmosphere, etc.

We live in a disgusting dorm house, in a dangerous part of the city and the school policy is suspension for calling the police without their permission. In fact, the police have told us and other students that they are not even allowed to patrol because the school wants to give an illusion of safety.

They have a “pretty cafeteria” and “new dorm” in one area of campus. This is the stage where they walk parents around and ooh and aah them. They even select certain students to be the work and learn students in the cafeteria. Some poor students have actually tried to slip little notes of warning to these parents, who look at them as if they are weirdos. These parents don’t know that they are missing out on: condemned, molding dorms, homeless men sleeping in the attics, daily sexual assault, gang rapes and basically complete chaos.

We knew nothing of the way this school works until we had already paid and signed the papers.

Also, don’t get stuck with a faculty or honors/selected student for touring. Ask to go alone. Bring a backpack and pretend to be a student.


I worked on campus giving tours and yes we visited a certain dorm rooms and classrooms. But we were also told to always tell the truth, and to take a tour into an classroom building they asked to see (if the tour was on the weekend), we were not allowed because of safety to take them through additional dorms. We did urge student to spend the night on campus the weekend of their tour, mom and dad had to find a hotel. Their student host could then take them into additional dorms.

Always ask questions tour guides are given guide lines of things to say, but those are for questions like “who is going to make sure my little Johny goes to class” we were always told to answer truthfully if asked if we felt scared on campus or if the food in caff was good or what dorm life was like. You will get the best answers in small tours, and HONESTLY parents ask your questions too tour guides LOVE questions, it helps us remember everything we want to say and helps the focus be on what you want to know. If someone knew that they want to enter the business school and no one else knows what they want to major in, I’d take the group into the business school building.

And yes days of big tours caff food is #'x better


Well, my advice wasn’t just for those wary of being hosed by weird colleges. Although it would help rule it out. Trust me, I had every perception of this being a cute, little private campus that was upper class and very nice. I found a really messed picture when we tried to move in, starting with our backdoor being held shut by an abandoned piano and ending with the business office randomly putting charges onto our bill every month.

Annnnyways, even for those who find they are pleased with the campus and don’t suspect it is in the Twilight Zone, staying over and venturing off the beaten path will give them a firm idea of the campus, which can aid in the decision process. It might not be that gang rapes are covered up at the school, but plenty of people are pickier over smaller things such as class size, student activities and party atmospheres.


I don’t know what to tell you - except what I would do - I believe I have to let him go sometime - I can’t keep him home forever. I have to TRUST him - seems like maybe you don’t completely trust your daughter. You very well may end up pushing her away. At some point you have to acknowledge that this is her life and you have to let her live it without your interference - only be there for guidance now.

And also you implying that you want your daughters especially to be home is a double standard. From what I can tell, boys are more likely to “mess around” than girls. It’s sometimes in their “nature” as they say.

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