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Monday, February 24, 2014

New Student Housing Options Creating Possibilities for Students

26,658, the number of beds filled by University of Maryland undergraduate students every year. Of those undergraduates, 11,955 students lived on campus in the fall of 2013, less than half of the total undergrads. This trend is not new to UMD, but is one that has skyrocketed over the last four years.
The Varsity, Off-Campus Student Housing
More than ever, students are choosing to live off-campus and use non-traditional housing options such as the Varsity, the View, Knox Towers, and other apartment complexes that are currently in the process of being built.

 Off-Campus housing a luxurious viable option for students

Since 2010 the landscape of College Park has been dynamically changing. Along Baltimore Avenue and the surrounding areas, new luxurious apartments are being built at a rapid pace. These new housing options have not only become a viable option for students, but a preferred for many as well. According to Robert Zeller, freshman at UMD, many students that get into the school via regular admission are opting out of on-campus housing by choice, “A lot of people choose to live off-campus instead of in the dorms. There are a lot less restrictions, and it’s just a better living environment being near restaurants and shops on route 1.” This opt-out movement is something that was unheard of at UMD just three years ago, and now it is increasingly becoming the norm. Not only are these off-campus apartments nicer than many on-campus housing options, but also they are comparable in pricing. The Varsity, the pioneer off campus apartment complex that started this trend, has a monthly rent cost of between $900-$1000 a month for students. In comparison, living on campus costs between $9000-$10,000 annually (including the average meal plan that is required by the university).

 Reslife Embracing Off-Campus Housing Options

Although it may seem that the new off-campus housing options have detracted from the traditional on campus living options, UMD's Resident Life office has embraced the changes righteously. Reslife’s Tiffany Gaines, assistant director of housing partnerships and off-campus housing, explained that for the Reslife offices, it is more important that the students make the right choice for them:
Additionally, Reslife has begun to combat the off-campus housing trend by creating new housing options and making improvements to older dorms. The newest addition to campus, Prince Frederick Hall, which will add between 462 and 465 beds to the on-campus housing market. Just two years prior to that, the construction of Oakland Hall was part of a revamping of north campus, showing continuing improvement to student resident life.

Student Life Rapidly Changing From New Housing

While many new students have already begun to take advantage of new housing options, for others such as senior Andrew Simon, the high-rises bring other positive changes to his student life:

Despite the great improvement the campus is seeing from the plethora of dorms, the constant construction has weighed on some students. Senior Theodore Price explained, “Sometimes the construction can become an annoyance. I feel like there is always a detour on my way to class or something telling me to take a different route. The loud noise wakes me up sometimes too.”

 Reslife insists it will continue to make improvements to the already built on campus options, while continuing to explore new dormitory possibilities. The department has already taken steps in that direction as on February 4th Reslife announced that Freshman Connection students will be offered on-campus housing for the first time in the school’s history this fall.

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