Living Options at Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University Housing

By Jackie Goodman

By Jackie Goodman
Unigo Campus Rep at Western Michigan University

Many schools require students to live on campus during freshman year; however, Western Michigan University allows students, including freshmen, to make the choice of living on or off campus on their own. Many students choose to live in the dorms because the typical college life is easier to access. But others choose to live off campus in apartments or houses because they love the idea of finally “living on their own.”

Most freshmen do choose to live in the dorms. Maybe they see it as a half-way step between moving out of their parents’ houses and living on their own. They don’t have to worry about missing monthly rent payments, nor do they have to worry about cleaning a seven-room house.  Or maybe it’s just more convenient — classes are five to 10 minutes away, and cooking isn’t required because WMU’s dorms have cafeterias (like The Burnhams, Hojke/Bigalow, and Valley II). And, if in need of company, dormers can just prop open their doors and someone will stop by.

“My favorite thing about living in the dorms is the people,” said Ann Hathaway, afreshman living in dorms. “There is always someone willing to do something at any time of the day, from working out at 7:00 in the morning to watching a movie at 4:00 in the morning because neither of us can sleep.” 

But with convenience and less responsibility come smaller spaces and less freedom.  Honestly, dorm rooms are tiny — smaller than students’ bedrooms at home. While some find this livable, for the messy, even the tiniest clutter can make the room seem cramped.  “Dormitory rules really aggravate me,” said Brooke Klenow, a sophomore who lives in the dorms. “RAs come pounding on my door if they think they smell me burning incense, but they do absolutely nothing about the girls that are screaming and running through the hallways at 3:30 in the morning.”

For students who need more freedom and larger living spaces, there are several houses around campus to rent for the school year. And there are apartments, too, like the University Club or the Landing.  Houses and apartments are perfect for people who want more freedom, but are prepared to take on more responsibility. “Sure, I have to pay monthly rent, buy my own groceries, and clean my own house, but it’s totally worth it,” said Ian Haupert, sophomore and resident of a house next to campus, “Because I make my own rules. If I want to sit on my roof, I sit on my roof. If I want to burn incense, I burn incense. If I want to yell and scream at 3:30 in the morning, I yell and scream at 3:30 in the morning.” And, if students are smart about choosing where to live, they can often save about $1000-$2000 because living in the dorms is more expensive.

But even apartments and houses have their downsides. “The best and worst thing about living in my house is the people. I have awesome roommates, and they make good company; they hang out with me when I want to have fun, and they leave me alone when I’m tired of being surrounded by people,” Haupert said. “But sometimes they leave for the evening, and I get really lonely. That’s when I start missing living in the dorms. I miss Valley II, and I miss how the weekends seemed like a perpetual party. I miss meeting new people every week.”

“Even if you think you have a perfect living space, you’ll eventually find something wrong with it,” Haupert added.  The dorms are too small, but houses can be too lonely.  There isn’t enough freedom in dorms, but sometimes too much responsibility with renting an apartment. Luckily, WMU offers a living space for those struggling to find a happy medium. There are three sets of apartments found on campus — the Elmwood, Goldsworth Valley, and Stadium Drive apartments. Since they’re on campus, students can still roll out of bed ten minutes before class starts and arrive on time.  And, individuals don’t have to worry about groups of people screaming through the hallways at 3:30 in the morning. But, of course, students still have to deal with numerous responsibilities.

Most freshmen choose to live in the dorms because they want to experience college life to its fullest. And despite the negative aspects, virtually everyone who’s lived in the dorms enjoyed living there. Sometimes the dorms may be loud, or individuals may feel restricted sometimes, but the dorms really are a great community. But, sometimes dorm life just will not work for an individual, and luckily WMU and the surrounding area offer convenient and affordable living spaces. Just know, come freshmen year, the chose of where to live is yours.