On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing: What Defines Our Experience Here?

By Alexandra Talleur '12

Staff Writer

Aside from its academics and location, one of the primary allures of Scripps College is its picturesque campus. Before visiting, we were inundated with appraisals of life at Scripps via pamphlets, college advisors and eager parents.

To attend Scripps, however, is an entirely different experience from the one of a prospective student. As a transfer student, I was keen on the boasted inclusivity of the Scripps community. And so far I have yet to be disappointed by my experience as one of its newest members. Except when it comes to housing. Though it comes as a shock to no one that colleges are growing (and growing…and growing…) most of us tend to hope that our respective institutions will live up to our expectations, largely shaped by the messages that those institutions send us as prospective students. As Scripps College is becoming increasingly well known, more students are applying. And—much to the chagrin of some—more are being accepted.

One of the most emphasized features of Scripps, and indeed the 5Cs, is the residential nature of the colleges. When post-grads reminisce about their four years, a great part of their nostalgia comes from their experiences in the dorms. Some still keep in touch with their hall mates, and even a crazy roommate makes for a good story. The college experience leaves many saying that those years were the best of their lives. A large part of this nostalgia no doubt comes from the sense of community fostered by shared experiences. Though sharing a double or a triple room is by no means glamorous, living with your peers is at the heart of the college experience. My fellow transfer students in the Padua apartments were lucky enough to be clustered together, and now enjoy the perks of dorm life—in the form of being surrounded by friends—with the comforts of private bedrooms. Though I have staunchly stuck to my preference of a private room, and fully understand that beggars can’t be choosers, it seems to contradict to the way of life Scripps advertises that students should be living like this. Not only am I off campus, but I’ve also been placed in a rather isolated situation, with no more than a handful of my peers.

From talking to Asia Morris (’12), now living on Pomona’s campus with other displaced students after studying abroad, it seems that few Scripps students living off-campus are complaining of feeling isolated; they even voice the benefits of meeting students from another campus. This sentiment is valuable to share, as it exposes the importance of a community of peers and highlights a way Scripps could be making its students feel more at home. While it is understandably difficult to find sufficient housing in a single location for those who must reside off campus, measures should be taken to achieve peer groupings in order to sustain the feeling of inclusivity so vital to the Scripps experience.

Despite Scripps’ beautiful campus, it is not the location itself that is of utmost importance. Rather, the sense of community that surrounds us is what truly defines our experience here.