Don’t take living on campus for granted

Eventually, we will all move on from living on campus. Before that happens, take a moment to cherish the time you’ve had


Collegian File Photo

By Luke Halpern, Collegian Columnist

Living on campus is something most students at the University of Massachusetts will experience during their time in college. Freshmen are required to live on campus in designated first-year residence halls, and many students continue to live on campus after that initial year for varying periods of time.

I am quickly approaching the end of my time living on campus. With only a few more weeks left until my time on campus is complete, I’ve been reminiscing on the last three semesters living in residence halls. I’ve come to the realization that the dorm experience is a unique one that won’t be replicated for the remainder of my life, and that I should not take it for granted.

Living in a dorm offers a chance to have unparalleled social interaction. Being just a few doors down from your friends is not something we all typically have the privilege of at home, and it makes the college experience memorable. Dorm life also provides a freedom that most of us have not had before college: living on your own without parental supervision and taking care of yourself. While it surely seemed like a challenge at first, it is the first opportunity to experience that important skill we will need for the rest of our lives.

Being on campus offers easy access to everything the campus has to offer. Dining halls and other food options, like Blue Wall, come to mind; living in Southwest Residential Area meant that Berkshire Dining Commons was always a short walk away, and moving off campus will certainly mean more costly and less convenient dining options.

Aside from the close proximity of dining establishments and easily hanging out with your friends is something less quantifiable but more essential: being around people you don’t know. It’s a strange thought — why should I care about those I’m not friends with? This may be a valid question, but that is not what I am referring to. It is more about appreciating how everyone is going through the same experience of living on campus, and how everyone is doing it together.

A few weeks ago, it was a particularly nice day out on campus. I went out to the Southwest Horseshoe to hang out with some friends, but on my walk over, I took occasional pauses and looked around. People were everywhere. Smiling people. Some running with footballs or frisbees, some lounging on the grass or on a towel. No matter what people were doing, at that moment, everyone was enjoying the sun together.

That is what I will truly miss about living on campus. The sense of togetherness, the sense of community, the sense of camaraderie among everyone that is hard to replicate elsewhere. It is hard to put entirely into words, but it is assuredly there. Something as simple as your soccer ball rolling over to a stranger and them kicking it back to you. Sure, it is just common courtesy. But it’s more than that. It’s an underlying feeling of connectedness and friendship that comes from attending the same school and doing the same things on the same campus.

Living on campus certainly has its drawbacks. The bathrooms are nothing to write home about and the dorm rooms are cramped, plus COVID-19 took away a semester of enjoyment in the residence halls — as well as radically changing how life in the dorms will be in the future. As annoying as those things are and were, the last two semesters of an almost-normal on-campus experience showed that in the end, they don’t really matter.

What matters is what you make of the time you have on campus. Throughout our lives, our teachers always told us that our years of school will go by faster than you think. They told us this in elementary school, middle school and high school, but I never believed them. Now approaching the end of my second year at UMass, I reluctantly look back and wish I cherished my younger years before they were gone. The semester ends in a few weeks, and I won’t make the same mistake. None of us should. Let’s cherish our time on campus — it will be gone before we know it.

Luke Halpern can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @lukehalpern.