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The Stress of Apartment Rentals

Leading up to the transition from high school to college, there is a huge focus on dorm life:  Roommates, communal bathrooms, and eating in a dining hall. These are all major components as one adjusts to college life.

Fast forward to about a month into freshman year now. You’ve learned how to use ANGEL, been to the library at least once, figured out the CATA bus system (unless you’re me who still couldn’t tell you the difference between a Blue Loop, a White Loop, and a Green Link), and have hopefully made some new friends.

At this time, apartment season begins as students scramble for places to live the following year. With housing not guaranteed beyond freshman year, and many freshmen seeking more independence free of an RA, the hunt for an apartment is on just a month after they’ve arrived in the foreign land of State College; they’ll have to figure out in that short period of time if they like their friends enough to live with the next year, and if not, what they’re going to do.

Some individuals, myself included, will decide to remain on campus in dorms for their sophomore year, but at some point, most people will look for an apartment during their time at Penn State. While preferences may can vary, most realty assocations have stated that most students prefer to live downtown on or near College and Beaver avenues. Some students, in order to obtain a prime apartment and location, will go to great lengths. “Apartmentville” may not have t-shirts or the prestige of Paternoville, but is seen as a necessity for some students. Onward State staffer Ryan Beckler, who moved into an apartment this fall did not particularly enjoy the process:

Camping out for an apartment was one of my most ridiculous experiences in college. I’ve camped weeks for football games, but the 48 hours I had to camp in the rain for an apartment was nothing short of miserable.

In addition to sometimes camping out, students are making pricy security deposits and signing into legal agreements that they have little experience with.  This situation is far from idea; however, some do think it was worth it in the long-run. According to Andrew Bellwoar:

I think it was worth it to camp out for an apartment. I mean, we did have a bit of bad luck with the rain, but I think it all paid off in the end. At the very least, the location [Beaver Canyon] makes me say that. I can’t imagine having to get up that much earlier just to catch a bus when I can just walk out of my apartment and basically be on campus. Plus, it’s nice when you know everyone downtown, because it allows you to get to and from their apartments and dorm rooms in a much easier fashion.

After my sophomore year, I moved into a downtown apartment that some of my good friends were already living in. I was lucky enough to not have to go through the process of “Apartmentville,” but the quick forced decision and uncertainty of where I would live was nerve-racking to say the least. Considering the magnitude of the decision, I’d say it’s downright ridiculous.

Whenever the time comes, this will be one of the more important decisions one makes while attending Penn State. An apartment is where you will sleep (most of the time), where you will eat many of your meals, and where you will do a decent amount of schoolwork. While in the end it works out for most people, one has to question if there is a better system be it an online, first-come, first-served lottery or pushing back lease renewals and housing contract deadlines to give all students, and especially freshmen, a little more time to make an educated decision. Lining up for spots in September? Are you kidding me?

What is your opinion on Apartmentville? Is it a ridiculously flawed system that needs to go or just another part of the Penn State experience?  Share your thoughts below. 

About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.


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