Housing Advice, Student Life

Tips for Getting Along With Your Neighbors

For many students, living off-campus comes with a greater sense of independence.  However, with this independence comes greater responsibility, and one main responsibility many students often forget is neighbor relations.  While it may not seem like the most important thing on your list, fostering poor relationships with your neighbors is the major reason why students receive a knock on the door from the cops.  This is why we’ve identified some of the biggest problems students experience with living off-campus in terms of neighbor relations and put together some tips to keep yourself from becoming just another one of those “pesky kids.”

Noise.  One of the biggest problems students experience when it comes to living off-campus are noise complaints.  Oftentimes students will have a party or just have few friends over and the cops will get called because of the noise.  However, this is highly preventable; it is easy to turn down the music, especially after a certain time of night.  The general rule of thumb is turn down the volume earlier on Sunday evenings and during the week, and later on Fridays and Saturdays.  However, many communities will have noise ordinances so you may want to check on these times for your specific community.

Parking.  Another problem students experience with their neighbors is parking.  If someone has parked their car blocking your neighbor in, your friends have parked illegally, or there are just too many cars on the street, the cops could get called.  You want to make sure that the people you are inviting over are also courteous of your neighbors as you are.  When you have your friends over, make sure that they aren’t parked so that they’re blocking your neighbors in and that they aren’t parked on someone else’s property.  You may also want to ask your friends to carpool to your house so there won’t be too many cars parked on the street.

Trash/Furniture.  One ordinance many neighborhoods have is related to trash and indoor furniture being outside.  These ordinances maintain that trash should always be in the bin or dumpster, and that indoor furniture should not be left outside (if it’s left to the elements, it’s basically considered trash anyway).  If you have grouchy neighbors, you may be receiving a nice big fine for not complying with these types of ordinances.

Yard Maintenance.  In many cases your landlord will take care of yard maintenance.  However, if they don’t offer this, you should pitch in to make sure the yard is looking nice.  While this also may not be at the top of your list, in many cases your neighborhood will actually have ordinances in relation to overgrowth.  Not only could you get slapped with a fine, you could have other problems with letting the plants and grass in your yard get too big.  These added problems could be an increase in the population of bugs in and around your house (ewww!), as well as interference with power lines.  The best course of action here is to make sure the grass is cut, there aren’t too many weeds, there isn’t any garbage hanging around, and nothing is around the power lines.

Overall, the best way to avoid problems with your neighbors is to introduce yourself when you move in.  This is important because . . .

  1. It puts a face to the new neighbors.  By introducing yourself you are setting yourself apart from many of the other student tenants that have gone before you.  This reduces the likelihood that your neighbors will lump you together with those tenants, and you can build your own relationship with your neighbors.
  2. By introducing yourself and letting your neighbors know that they can come talk to you directly if they ever need anything or have a problem, you are saving everyone a lot of grief.  You will be less likely to get a knock on your door from the cops and your neighbor will no longer get woken up at 3 am by loud music.
  3. Your neighbors can be your biggest resource; they know the area because they’ve lived there longer and they can help you out if you ever run into any problems of your own.

By introducing yourself to your neighbors and by heading off any issues before they arise, you will not only have a better off-campus experience, but you will most likely prevent the cops being called.  It’s best to maintain a good relationship with your neighbors because it not only saves you all this grief, it is also makes you more independent, and demonstrates that you can be a mature young adult.

Other articles referenced:

Good Neighbor Relations Guide by Liveable Neighborhoods for Kansas City

Good Neighbor Relations Among Students & Community Members by Melissa Emerson


JumpOffCampus Caffeine Challenge Schedule

Our Caffeine Challenge begins on Monday and below is the schedule and the links to each of the different surveys that correspond to the day. Feel free to track your progress using these surveys, and be sure to see how you measure up to our other competitors by following and posting to the hashtag #CaffeineChallenge.

Monday: Coffee https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGRadlZuVFZSakVNX1BSQTI2MmlJS2c6MA#gid=0

Tuesday: Red Bull https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFhVQjQ2clpxUkRXSUdhb3VuOVZNaGc6MA#gid=0

Wednesday: 5 Hour Energy https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHJ3dEhWU25QbHR5QkFmeUJWUVM2MFE6MA#gid=0

Thursday: Sheets Energy https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGx3N3p5UHRKUmNESmVpMXdaUVFaUXc6MA#gid=0

Friday: Control Day – No Caffeine https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGlFTnZNbl9ISkRfQzhRZ3BOWExycUE6MQ#gid=0

Participation in the Caffeine Challenge is strictly voluntary. It is not recommended for those who are sensitive to caffeine or who have health conditions that prevent caffeine intake. We also recommend that you follow warnings and instructions related to each of these products when consuming.

Roommates, Student Life

What I Do About My Clingy Roommate?

Your roommate seemed cool until you noticed that they started appearing right behind you every time you turn around.  You also started to notice that they invite themselves out with you when you’re going out with your friends.  They’re there when you wake up, when you go to sleep, when you eat, when you study; you’re even half-expecting them to be standing just outside the curtain when you shower!

Scene from the film “The Roommate” directed by Christian Christiansen
Photo from http://www.totalfilm.com

You’re starting to feel creeped out (if you haven’t already been creeped out after that time she somehow ended up in your closet), and you need to do something about it.   But let’s be honest:  How can you tell someone gently that they’re officially creeping you out?

Be sensitive, be kind, and be honest.  The key here is to not say what is exactly on your mind; don’t tell your roommate that she’s creepy and that you think she has dependency issues.  That will only make matters worse.  The other thing you want to avoid is completely ignoring her; don’t just stop talking to her because you think she’s creepy.  This is because 1) there is most likely a reason for why she’s developed a sort of dependency on you, and 2) she has feelings just like you do. While, like we said, it’s not a good idea to tell her you’re creeped out, you definitely want to let her know that what she’s doing is not making you feel comfortable.  Think of the reasons why it doesn’t make you feel comfortable, and explain this to her.  You just have to be cautious when doing this because, like we said, she is most likely doing this for a reason. Be sensitive to that; use statements that focus on the specific actions she does and how that makes you feel rather than focusing on her flaws.

Avoid blaming her and criticizing her for anything.  You don’t want to blame her for why you’re friends don’t seem to want to hang out at your place anymore, or why, for some reason, she widens her eyes when she’s watching you eat your breakfast.  Be sensitive and considerate to her feelings.

Be calm, respectful, and level-headed.  This is not the time to freak out on her for other things she’s done and it’s not the time to completely diss her.  You want to plan out what you are going to say ahead of time and consider her feelings when you say it.  You also want to give her a chance to speak; maybe this way you can get some insight as to why she follows you around.

Overall, no matter what kind of roommate you have, it is always important to talk to them when issues come up.  The best thing you can do is be honest, be respectful, be calm, and be considerate, because you’re roommates: You need your space, but you also need to live together peacefully (for both your sanity).

Roommates, Student Life

I Hate My Roommate: What To Do When Your Relationship With Your Roommate Goes Wrong

More often than not, you’ll find yourself in a disagreement with your roommate. While not every disagreement will end in a full-blown fight, there may be times when it will.  The only thing you can do is to prepare yourself for those times and to be ready for anything.

For example, say your roommate has been having their significant other over to your place too much.  When you go to talk to them about it, they get defensive and the issue never gets resolved.  Let’s say that after that point it gets very awkward around your place and you end up leaving each other notes, ignoring one another, and/or just not speaking.  What would you have to do?

In every case, you should always try to talk with your roommate again.  Avoid leaving passive aggressive notes for one another (you can see why that might not work on www.passiveaggressivenotes.com) and giving them the silent treatment.  It’s time to act like adults; you’re in college (or maybe out of college, depending on who’s reading this).  Take some time and plan out what you’re going to say to them.  Focus on how their actions make you feel and avoid making it about defects in their personality.

You also want to be sure to talk to them when you are calm and levelheaded; they won’t listen to you if you scream at them.  Be sure to detail your feelings, but also be sure to listen to what they have to say.  No matter what, try hard not to take things too personally or become too defensive; this only makes matters worse.  Instead, try to think logically about what they have to say; this means being able to criticize yourself.  What could you be doing to upset them?

If talking with them doesn’t seem to work and it only seems to make things worse, the only thing you can really do from there is to be civil to one another.  Maintain your consideration and respect for one another.  Being roommates doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be friends, or that you even have to like each other; just as long as you respect one another and are considerate, your relationship (or lack-there-of) can work.

While fighting with your roommate can be traumatic, it happens to a lot of people.  The only thing you can do is prepare yourself for those scenarios when it doesn’t work, and sometimes you do just have to concede that you don’t see eye-to-eye or that you just don’t get along.  Although it stinks when you and your roommate don’t get along, it is better that you both can at least come to an understanding and share mutual respect for one another and your space.


The JumpOffCampus Caffeine Challenge

This week we’re moving into a new office with many of the other Betaspring alums and we’re super excited!  Despite our excitement, however, we are running into a dilemma:  What on earth are we going to stock the new fridge with?  As startups, we’ve got to make sure that we stay alert and productive for over 8 hours a day and we admittedly need a little help.

Therefore, to really test what will be our caffeine of choice, we’ve decided to make this a challenge; a battle of the caffeine, if you will.  To get everyone’s opinion, we’ll be recruiting the other companies we’ll be sharing office space with to see what will be the best choice.

Every beverage (or caffeine product) we test will be designated to one day, so our competitors can’t have any other caffeine product that day.  They will also be given a specific amount they can drink, and will not be able to drink any more than that.  Then, throughout the day, competitors will be surveyed to see how tired they feel, how alert they feel, how productive they feel, and how well they feel they’ve been able to concentrate.  These surveys will happen 4 times throughout the day; once when they arrive at work, once at 11 am, again at 2 pm, and then again at 5 pm.  We’ll be sure to track everyone’s progress as they go throughout the day and see which caffeine beverage seems to be working the best.  We’ll also be asking our competitors to track their progress throughout the day on Twitter.  Each competitor will be tweeting to the hashtag #CaffeineChallenge to update us on the latest.

While we’ll be spending most of the week pretty caffeinated (hopefully), next Friday will be our control day, meaning that we won’t be drinking any caffeine.  This means that we will have been caffeinating all week, and will cut ourselves off on Friday . . . the day of the week it could be the toughest to get through.  It’s on this day we’ll be holding a competition to see which competitor will crack first; either a) cave in and drink some caffeine, or b) fall asleep.

So be sure to follow our progress on our Twitter, and feel free to take the challenge with us!  Just be sure to track your status along with us at #CaffeineChallenge!  We’ll be announcing the competitors tomorrow and the schedule this Friday, so stay tuned!

Your participation in this Caffeine Challenge is strictly voluntary and is not recommended for those who may experience complications due to high caffeine intake. Please see FDA and brand warnings related to consumption of these types of products.
Roommates, Student Life

Two’s Company & Three’s A Crowd: How to Manage Your Relationship with Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend and Your Roommate

While having your boyfriend or girlfriend around all the time might be great for you, it might not be for your roommate.  Whether you’re living in a dorm or you’re living in an apartment, it doesn’t matter: Sharing space with your roommate and your significant other can get tough to manage.  That’s why we’ve put a list together of all the things you can do to prevent a huge blow up between you, your roommate and your boyfriend/girlfriend.

In an article by Annie Maguire at College Cures, the first thing you want to do is set time boundaries.  This means that you should talk with your roommate about their schedule and when would be the best time for your boyfriend/girlfriend to come over.  You can also work with them to determine a cut-off time (10 pm, 11pm, etc.) for guests, and then stick to your guns.  Once it gets to the cut-off time, your boyfriend/girlfriend needs to go home and so should theirs.

The next thing Maguire suggests is setting spatial boundaries.  This means that you should establish with your roommate where your significant other can spend time in your room/apartment.  This means that you should establish with them (beforehand) where your boyfriend/girlfriend can hang out and what items they can use.

Another rule of thumb when it comes to managing these types of relationships is giving one another space.  This includes giving yourself, your roommate, and your significant other the space they need.  You should be sure that you and your significant other aren’t always hanging out in your room, and that you share time between each other’s places equally.  This way your roommate and their roommate get time alone too.

The most important concerns you should have when it comes to managing your relationship with your roommate and your significant other is to be considerate and to communicate with one another.  You and your significant others’ wants and needs are not superior to your roommate’s and vice versa.  The best way to manage this is to speak with one another frequently and often about what each other needs, wants, and feels about the situation and what each of you can do to make sure everyone is happy.

Housing Advice, Roommates

What Happens When You Get a New Roommate?

It happens all the time:  You choose to live in the same apartment for another year, your roommate moves on, and you end up with a new roommate.  While it is just a part of life, it’s always a little weird adding a new roommate to the mix, especially if you have been living there already.  This is why we’ve put together some suggestions to help you navigate your new roommate situation.

Don’t forget that it’s their place too.  This is perhaps the most important thing to remember:  If you’re adding a new roommate to the mix, you can’t forget that the apartment is just as much theirs as it is yours.  Just because you have been living there longer doesn’t give you the upper hand.

Take time to get to know them a little.  We’re not saying you have to be best friends, but it is considerate to try to get to know them a little bit.  In particular, you should consider asking them questions about their lifestyle preferences (i.e. when they go to bed, where they like to study, etc.).  That way you know what they like and what they don’t.

Take time to explain to them your existing house rules.  If you and your roommate(s) had previously established house rules (i.e. guest policy, chore distribution, etc.), you want to let them know.  However, because this person is new to the situation, you shouldn’t consider these rules to be set in stone.  Talk with your new roomie about how they feel about the rules you’ve established, what they like (or dislike) about them, and how the house rules can accommodate everyone’s preferences.

Give them a tour.  Show your new roomie where things are normally kept; this includes where the cleaning supplies are, where everyone puts their food, and where they can find extra toilet paper and paper towels.

Be helpful.  Be open to answering any questions your new roomie might have about your place.  Also be sure to explain to them any weird features or problems you may have with the apartment.  This way they know the kooky characteristics of your pad just as much as you do.

While it may be strange for you when your new roomie moves in, imagine how weird it must be for them!  They are moving into a new place with people who have already been there before.  They may think you and your other roommates will be best friends already and/or you will already be into your own routine that you won’t acknowledge them.  This is why it’s important to talk to your new roomie and figure out ways you can help them make your apartment feel like their home too.

Housing Advice, Student Life

96 square feet?!? What is a college student to do?

Especially as a freshman, it is hard to know exactly what to expect when you’re moving into the dorms.  This is perhaps not only the first time you’re moving away from home, but it is also the first time you are living with someone else. The first thing you will most likely consider is space; especially when you’re living with one, two, or even three other people, you will want to know just how much space will you have and how you will carve out a space that is all your own.

To find out exactly how much space students are given in their dorm room as freshmen, we recently conducted some research across 50 universities around the U.S.  What we found was that the average square footage universities provide per student is around 96 square feet.  That’s pretty small, given that the average mattress size for a dorm room (an extra long twin) is about 20 square feet.  However, perhaps what is most surprising is that, overall, square footage per student ranged from 132 square feet at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma to 50 square feet at Oklahoma City University.

You’re probably asking yourself, why would they give students so little space?  Well, let’s be honest here:  No school sets out thinking that they want their students to be crammed together like sardines.  Actually, many schools would rather that their students have a lot of space to live and to study within their dorm rooms.  It just works out that, in many cases, they just don’t have the room for it.  Especially if housing facilities are limited, universities can’t provide as much space as both they and their students would hope for.

So what can you do with the little space that you’re given?  We spoke with interior decorator and owner of Fresh Ideas by Sandy, Sandy Alger, about how students can better maximize the space they’re given and make it their own.

The first thing Sandy  suggests is maximizing storage space.  “I suggest using built-ins and shelving on the walls whenever you can.  Under the bed is great storage for the change of season, bedding, etc.”  She also suggests putting extra shelving in the bathroom (that is if you have your own bathroom), so that you can store more items.  By maximizing storage space, you can limit the clutter and mess you would have to deal with if you didn’t have a place to put everything.

Another suggestion Sandy has for students is multi-purposing furniture; she explains that you can turn kitchen tables into desks and coffee tables into storage.  If you have the opportunity to bring items like this, it is a great way to make your dorm room more like home and much more functional.

Alger also suggests bringing only the essentials with you.  Sandy says she lives by the saying, “Less is more,” and urges students to keep it “simple and inexpensive . . . think out of the box.”  She suggests browsing IKEA, and even thrift stores, for pieces and inspiration; photos, magazine prints and even your own artwork can serve as accents and make your room a little bit more “homey.”

However, the most important piece of advice Sandy gives to students is to be themselves when it comes to design.  “Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.”  When it comes to making the space your own, you want to be able to express yourself and feel comfortable where you are; you want to be able to feel like you live there, and that this is a place (no matter how small) that you can call your home.


We need your help!

We’re currently working on some research in relation to student perceptions of on- vs. off-campus housing and we need your help!  If you are a current student, or even if you have graduated within the last two years, you can help us out by taking our survey!  It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, so if you have some extra time, we’d really appreciate you taking our survey.  Just click HERE to take the survey and feel free to pass this along to your friends!  This survey is completely anonymous, so that means we can’t trace back answers to you, nor will we publish or share who you are.

If you want a direct link to our survey to post on your Facebook or Twitter, just copy and paste this link onto your profile and this will take anyone who clicks it directly to the survey page:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGJqMjBHZjIyRGluNDlkbllsUFVQRlE6MQ#gid=0