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(Very cautious) Update: Off-campus housing (very affordable) for a minor?


Jenny in Florida
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Update: I'm not celebrating yet, because I won't really believe it until we talk to the bursar's office tomorrow and amend the financial arrangements, but my son received an e-mail today saying that he has moved off the wait list and been assigned a space on campus.

 

Who knows what happened behind the scenes? What I can say is that we have been trying to work with the off-campus housing coordinator, without a lot of success. My son filled out the questionnaire we had been sent about what he was looking for in an apartment and how much we had to spend and sent it back, as directed, last Friday. The initial e-mail we had received said that the coordinator would "approve" the form and then forward it to some local real estate agents, who would assist us. We waited to hear back from him, but when there was no word as of Tuesday morning, I sent an e-mail to the head of Residence Life providing an update on the lack of progress. I apologized for bothering her again, but explained that, despite our best efforts to find an appropriate off-campus situation, it was looking like our son would have to withdraw if we couldn't resolve this soon. I asked, very politely, if it might be helpful for us to contact a few deans and heads of departments whose names and titles I found on the college website. I also mentioned that we planned to visit the campus one day next week and asked if there was a particular day or time that would be best to find faculty and staff in their offices.

 

I got an automated out-of-office reply immediately, but I had cc'd the off-campus coordinator. And, like magic, he called and left me a message an hour later while I was at work. He apparently also called my son directly, although the lazy bones was still asleep. He left both of us messages with a bit of additional information, but mostly a lot of excuses. I worked the next six hours straight and had no chance to call him back, and he called me again that afternoon. My son called him back and spoke to him and got signed up for a private Facebook group for students looking for roommates. Why that could not have been offered to him a week before, I still don't know, but at least it was one more avenue to explore.

 

My son spent much of yesterday and today glued to his computer and phone making and responding to posts on the group. As of this afternoon, he had a lead on one apartment that would have been a couple of hundred dollars more than we actually feel comfortable spending and would be about twice as far off campus as I had hoped and in a part of town we didn't really want him to live, but we were strongly considering proceeding, simply because nothing else had come even that close to seeming feasible. I drove my son to a dance class this evening, and we had decided we would do some more research and talk more once we got home.

 

While I was driving him home from class, he got a message on his phone from the off-campus housing coordinator asking him to check his student e-mail account. He did so when we walked in the door, and found a note from the Residence Life director telling him he'd been assigned on-campus housing and that he had until tomorrow at 4:00 to accept. I sat next to him on the couch to watch him type and send his acceptance, since all of us wanted to make sure it was real and there were no glitches with his response.

 

So, who knows if my mama-bear e-mails actually shook loose anything or if it was just coincidence that a space happened to open up just now. I honestly don't care. I'm just so relieved I could cry, and I'm looking forward to calling the bursar's office in the morning to amend our monthly payment plan to cover the dorm fees. Once they agree to take my money, I'll feel a lot more sure that this is a done deal.

 

I just might, though, actually sleep tonight.

 

 

 

Original Post: I'm curious to hear thoughts on this issue and would very much appreciate you all helping me to brainstorm both issues and potential solutions I haven't already thought of:

 

Some may remember the glitch my son created with his registration last semester? Essentially, he was not registered for 12 or more credit hours prior to the beginning of the semester -- some of which was his own fault and some of which had to do with a reorganization happening in his major. He did choose and begin attending a full slate of classes right away, but there was some delay in putting through the paperwork to formalize the registration -- again, partly from his own choices and partly just regular bureaucracy. The combination of factors meant that, on the date they checked his status to verify that he was eligible for his assorted scholarships and financial aid, all of which require him to be a full-time student, he did not qualify. His registration for the semester was cancelled. 

 

He didn't jump on fixing the problem as quickly as I would have wished. The first clue I had that there was a serious issue was when I was unable to pay his bill for the following month. After that, it took about three weeks to get everything resolved. And right at the end of those three weeks was the deadline to pre-register for housing for the following year. Because he was not, at that point, a registered student, he was not eligible to sign up. 

 

As soon as he was able to do so, he put his name on the no-guarantee waiting list for housing. He has checked in a few times this summer, only to be told he would be notified when/if there was any information. Two days ago, he was notified that they do not have a place for him and that they recommend he look at off-campus housing. He seemed to view this as a minor, temporary inconvenience and has -- until today -- resisted my attempts to explain the assorted reasons why this is problematic. The four major obstacles I see are these.

 

A) This is not a major campus that is surrounded by student-centric apartment complexes. By the time we take into account utilities (not included in rent) and assorted up-front costs, off campus housing will very likely be more expensive than having him in the dorm. There is very little wiggle room in our budget for keeping him at school. 

 

B) He has no driver's license and no car and (you may be sensing a theme, here) we cannot afford to get him either one. The minute we add a teenage boy to our policy, our auto insurance nearly doubles, and that's before we even consider buying or maintaining a vehicle. Between the fact that he is limited to his bicycle for getting to and from campus and the fact that the university specifically recommends that students not wander around off-campus after dark because of the crime rates in the immediate area, he would be very limited as to where it would be practical to rent, even if he could overcome the other issues.

 

C) He would absolutely, positively have to share the smallest possible apartment in order to make the costs work, and he has no roommate lined up. Classes begin in four weeks, and all of his friends already have space in the dorms.

 

D) He will not turn 18 until well into the second semester. I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the possibility that an off-campus, not-affiliated-with-the-college apartment complex is going to let a 17-year-old kid sign a lease and move in. I'm assuming that, because he has no income to speak of, he would need us to co-sign even in a best-case scenario and even if he were 18. But, especially given that our credit rating is nothing to brag about, I think it is a serious long-shot that he will find a place wiling to take him under these circumstances, even with us as co-signers.

 

He has floated various "solutions," including he was already planning to work and will contribute whatever he makes toward any increased costs. That sounds lovely, but when we actually add up how much he is likely to net per month, especially considering that most off-campus jobs would require him to pay for transportation (and the public transportation isn't great, so travelling to and from work would likely take as much time as the hours he'll actually get paid for), it's a drop in the bucket. And, since keeping his scholarships requires him to maintain a certain GPA, I'm hesitant to encourage him to work a ton of hours, not to mention the fact that his majors (performing arts) involve rehearsals and performances for a good number of hours outside of class each week, often at odd times of day.

 

He spoke to someone in the residence life office today, who said there is a possibility that they may be able to take some people off the wait list during the open room change week that happens after the semester begins. He seemed to think this meant we could look at some kind of short-term solution (hotel?) and he could wait it out and hope for the best. I explained that a hotel, even for just a couple of weeks, works out to so much more per night that it would eat into his housing budget for the entire semester in a pretty significant way. Also, what happens if we commit to this and it then turns out the college really can't accommodate him? Does he just drop out and move home three weeks into the semester? I'm not willing to send him down there without a much more definite plan.

 

Can anyone help me think this through? Is there a solution I'm missing? Problems I haven't yet even realized? Has anyone been through anything similar and solved it satisfactorily?

 

 

 

 

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I was just going to add what it looks like you know - housing *may* open up a couple weeks into the semester.  DD applied for housing in June - way late.  As we were waiting, she remembered that last year when she worked in the housing office, they were able to place students still on the waiting list.  For us, it was no big deal to wait as we live close enough she could commute.  And she somehow managed to get a room already.

 

I think they 17 yo thing is going to be the biggest deal breaker.

 

(((HUGS)))

 

 

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Oh and I'd contact the housing office and try to get ds push up the waiting list. I would make a big deal about age point out that he's younger than freshman, hopefully, someone would consider giving him priority to an open unit based on age.

 

That's what I've been encouraging him to do, to basically throw himself on the mercy of the residence life folks and plead his case. He feels awkward doing that, especially on the phone. (He'd be much more comfortable and persuasive in person.) It seems to me that, like cable companies who would rather hold onto an existing customer than go through the advertising and hassle to secure a new one, the college might be willing to push him up the list if they understand he likely cannot return unless they find a place for him on campus.

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How far away are we talking?

 

Would he lose any scholarships if he took a semester or year off?  I would be very, very careful with this...taking one semester instead of a whole year can particularly derail how much aid is given out, as it is set aside by class year and scarcer in the spring, but if he already lost his scholarships during the previous snafu and is just receiving Pell Grants, Stafford loans, etc., I would strongly consider having him take a year of absence and stay home to work in the meanwhile. Major life lesson in regards to procrastination and bureaucracy...some mistakes actually can't be fixed.

 

What is the dorm policy on overnight guests? Do off-campus students have to sign in to visit their friends in dorms?  I doubt overnight "visitors" are allowed the first week, particularly fellow students who are not really visiting from out of town, but my only other thought is crashing on the floor if he has any buddies who are already rooming together in the dorms. Or on the couch of someone lucky enough to have an on-campus apartment.  I'm sure that's frowned upon, so it would be a risky option.

 

What's the refund policy if he shows up, starts attending with a temporary solution, and then open-change week doesn't pan out in a spot for him? If he withdraws at that point, is he liable for tuition?

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How far away are we talking?

 

Would he lose any scholarships if he took a semester or year off?  I would be very, very careful with this...taking one semester instead of a whole year can particularly derail how much aid is given out, as it is set aside by class year and scarcer in the spring, but if he already lost his scholarships during the previous snafu and is just receiving Pell Grants, Stafford loans, etc., I would strongly consider having him take a year of absence and stay home to work in the meanwhile. Major life lesson in regards to procrastination and bureaucracy...some mistakes actually can't be fixed.

 

What is the dorm policy on overnight guests? Do off-campus students have to sign in to visit their friends in dorms?  I doubt overnight "visitors" are allowed the first week, particularly fellow students who are not really visiting from out of town, but my only other thought is crashing on the floor if he has any buddies who are already rooming together in the dorms. Or on the couch of someone lucky enough to have an on-campus apartment.  I'm sure that's frowned upon, so it would be a risky option.

 

What's the refund policy if he shows up, starts attending with a temporary solution, and then open-change week doesn't pan out in a spot for him? If he withdraws at that point, is he liable for tuition?

 

The campus is 75 miles from where we live, meaning commuting is not an option.

 

He did not lose any scholarships; everything was restored once he got the registration issue resolved, and all of his scholarships and grants were renewed for this year.

 

Students in the dorms are allowed one overnight guest, with permission from all roommates, for (I think) two nights at a time. I don't think they are allowed any guests in the first week or so, however. It sure would be handy if he had a friend or friends already living off campus who wouldn't mind letting him crash for a bit, but that does not seem to be the case.

 

I just don't know about the refund policy. That's a question we'll have to ask if he can't get a more reassuring answer in the next few days.

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I think it would be worth a trip there so he can speak with the res life people in person.  You can back him up, if need be, that he has no other options due to his age.  I think they will realize the seriousness of the situation and find a spot for him asap.  If they say they can do it after the first week, he should start talking with friends now about staying with them for the week.  Other than that, if he knows an advisor, mentor or professor well, maybe he could ask them for suggestions.  They might be inclined to speak to res life on his behalf or may know someone who could take him in temporarily so they don't lose him as a student.

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Oh and I'd contact the housing office and try to get ds push up the waiting list. I would make a big deal about age point out that he's younger than freshman, hopefully, someone would consider giving him priority to an open unit based on age.

 

Yes, this might be a good thing for mom to step in and do, especially since the student is under the age of 18.  I realize the OP wants her son to handle this himself, but I think due to the student's age and financial situation, it really might be worth it to insert a little parent-power into the situation.  I truly believe the college would give an underage student priority. 

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As a mama, I would be very tempted to call the school myself, and get the info on what the various options and potential outcomes are, rather than leaving it to a seventeen year old.  I would be concerned that without housing, he couldn't attend, and I would be concerned that if he does not attend, he may lose his scholarships and he may not get a full refund for any monies paid thus far.  These are the big questions I'd be asking the housing department and the finance department and anyone else who may have a hand in these things.

However, your ds is a theater and dance major.  He's going to have a tough slog getting jobs in his field, and he's going to have to get very good at talking to people in charge of things, handling money, finding housing, meeting deadlines, and other details of life if he's going to make a go of it in his chosen professions.  That would make me hesitate to step in and take over.

 

Therefore, here's what I'd do - I'd quietly make some calls and gather the information so that I knew what I was working with, and what the risks were.  Then I'd coach him to make the appropriate calls (basically, the same ones I already made), so that he had the information.  Actively coach - writing down questions, role playing, etc., because he clearly needs it.  You and he will then have the information he needs to proceed appropriately.  I would make "what if" flow charts to show the outcomes of various options, so that he can see the possible consequences of various choices, and so that he can work backwards from the outcomes he wants to see the choices required to get there.  

The big question is whether you let him fail.  There are pros and cons, of course, and my answer would depend on how catastrophic I felt failure would be for him and his future.  I wouldn't throw away opportunities that will never come again.  

(As an aside, many schools temporarily put overflow students into study lounges or triple in a double room, knowing that there will be drop outs in the first few weeks and thus regular rooms will open up.  Ask about this!!!)

 

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I'd step in. He's a minor and will be most of the school year ( I think). I'd call housing myself, so he's a minor and can't be in most off campus housing options. Be specific that he may not return to school. 

 

At 17 (also my second year of college), I wouldn't have been able to push like this at his age. In fact I didn't. I called and asked questions, but I didn't get an effective insistent point across, I ended up in dorm housing that was 4 miles away from campus. I survived the year, but this is one area I know my dad would have gotten results. I did find out later there was housing right on campus when I arrived fall semester and it sat empty. So, I really needed someone to advocate for me.

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Please don't be offended by what I'm going to say --

 

If his housing does work out, great. But it sounds like he is not that mature and could possibly benefit from living at home and doing a combination of working and maybe taking a class or two at the community college this year and trying again next year when he is that much more mature.

 

Our society has decided that everyone is NOT mature at 17 and then magically turns into a full-fledged adult at 18. We all know, however, that some 16yo's are completely capable of running their own lives and some 25yo's aren't. Some people just require a bit more time to grow before they're ready for independent adult-type responsibilities. (And your son is 17 -- so he is young to be dealing with college.)

 

If it works out that your son can live on campus, I think that would be great. But he is very young, and considering that he is young and that he hit some snafus last year as well, he might benefit from growing up a bit before he tries college again.

 

College is an EXPENSIVE place to mature -- and mistakes done at college can affect employment options later on.

 

Best wishes -- parenting requires so much wisdom.....

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I agree with Gwen. College is indeed a very expensive place to mature. I witnessed this when I was in college. I was a full time, residential housing student at 16 with a triple major and had no trouble juggling my life, handling the inevitable wrinkles in the road. However, I roomed with a 19 year old that really was not at all mature enough yet to handle living on her own, and wowza, she had a lot of problems all of which were very costly financially as well as socially.

 

I would be inclined to ask about the possibility of doing the next semester from home online. Many colleges offer freshman classes this way. It's not ideal, but learning to handle his course load and a few hours of week of work with gentle help from mom and dad might be just what the doctor ordered if on campus housing does not work itself out soon. He can remain on the waiting list for second semester and generally spots do open up due to kids who drop out of school.

 

Be honest with him. Show him how many hours he'd have to work to maintain a tiny apartment IF he could find a roommate. Add to that the cost of finding a cheap car, registering it, and insuring it. He may not understand that he really is in no position to undertake this right now.

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I would drive him to campus to speak to someone in the housing office in person. I would tell him to start his explanation with his age and see if that changed anything. Tell him the object is to explain to someone beyond the front desk staff. We've had better luck resolving problems in person than over the phone. It would be particularly helpful if he looks younger than his age, but in any case, being more persuasive in person is good. It isn,t a bad life lesson, anyway, to know that making a phone call to solve a problem is not considered "enough" by most adults, that more phone calls, emails, and a visit are expected before one gives up. That is such a tricky age to steer through these sorts of things. Ug.

 

Good luck! We had a similar housing emergency this year and it wasn't our first. Somehow, they have all resolved themselves ok. I hope yours works out.

 

Nan

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I think you have to decide how much YOU want him to go to college this fall. If you want him to make it, you need to help. It sounds like to me, he has made an effort that has included making some mistakes. He has tried to correct those mistakes, but isn't up to the job. You can let that cost him the year or you can step in and help. Make the trip to campus with him and let him talk to housing and back him up. Make sure you leave with the situation resolved or a plan.

 

If he can't get on campus housing, I would be going with the Craig's List plan. Place ads, search the ads, use it to its fullest to find him a room close to campus.

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This is the point where I would step in to  help rather than trying to get him to do it all on his own. He is still a minor and will be a minor for most of the school year.

 

I would drive up to campus with him and go to the meetings with him. You don't have to take over and do it all, but I think having you there with him to fill in any gaps in information or questions that get left out will really help. This way you will also actually know what was said rather than relying on your ds's interpretation of what was said.

 

It may be possible to defer his scholarship for one semester and have it not cause a problem. Be aware that when you defer a scholarship, you generally are NOT allowed to take any classes of any type anywhere during that deferral. Make sure you get absolutely clear information about what must be done to be able to keep the scholarship if you opt for deferral.

 

Otherwise, I would make it clear to residential life that he had tried to do everything the way that it was supposed to be done, but the snafu with the restructuring of the major along with him not understanding entirely what he was doing made him ineligible to apply for housing when he should have. He didn't just forget about it. The fact that he will be 17yo for most of the schoolyear should (hopefully) bump him up in priority on the waiting listl

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I would drive him to campus to speak to someone in the housing office in person. I would tell him to start his explanation with his age and see if that changed anything. Tell him the object is to explain to someone beyond the front desk staff. We've had better luck resolving problems in person than over the phone.

 

Agree with this 100%. Go early in the day so there is time to go from office to office  all day long if necessary. In any college bureaucracy there are always nice people who want to help it is just a matter of finding them and the phone is not the way to do that. There will no-shows and drop outs in the first week in the dorm. They will take someone off the wait list - the key is just to get him to the top of that list. If he gets nowhere with Res Life he might even think about going to advising for his college and ask if they have suggestions.

 

Good luck!

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I would probably handle this pretty aggressively and step in myself.  I know you'd like for him to handle it himself, but if you think he is at least starting to understand his responsibility in making this all work, then I'd get in touch with the school myself.  And, I'd encourage your son to call not just the housing office but other people too -- in admissions, etc.  It really seems like they should bump him up on the list since he is a minor, and I would specifically suggest this.  I'd be very specific and explain his situation, and that he really needs to know ahead of time.

 

I'd probably also start perusing sites such as Craigslist and air bnb.  Do you know anyone at all in that area that might be willing to rent a room or a couch?

 

The last option of course would be for him to take a semester off from school, and that's not all bad and lessons are learned.  Just be sure, if he is on scholarship, that his semester off allows him to resume the scholarship when he returns.  My daughter took a semester off from college due to a family emergency and her scholarship was renewed.  But they said for any other circumstance, it would not have been.

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I agree with you helping him out and heading up to the school to look at options in person.

 

The only new idea I can think of is having him try and register so that all his classes are in just a couple of days.  As a freshman/sophomore this shouldn't be too hard since there should be a lot of gen ed he still needs to take.  Then, he could see if he can crash with friends the nights he needs to be there but head home for the long weekends in between.  He could try and get a job closer to home and work just "weekends".  Certainly not ideal but not impossible.  75 miles is a crappy daily commute but not awful once a week.

 

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Online classes and alternate schedules--this is probably not an option. The OPs student is a dance performance major and something else. I can't see him having any classes easily taken away from campus. I also don't see these type of classes as scheduled in such a way to stack them all on two days a week. Due to his major he needs to try to take advantage of performance opportunities, which require rehearsals. So, I think the options for him have to be on campus or very close to campus or not enroll (endangering scholarship possibly). Yeah, it's time to aggressively search craigslist and drive to the housing office and camp out until you've got something close to positive.

 

I do not think not handling this situation means the OPs ds isnt ready for college. Having her model how to advocate for himself may be a good lesson for him to build on.

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I re-read your post and I see that some of the problem is that your son doesn't consider this to be too serious.  In one way that's good that he's able to roll with the punches and all, but he does need to realize how limiting his age is when finding temporary housing.  I'd suggest letting him call hotels to inquire about a room and make sure he knows he has to tell them his age, although they will likely ask and need to see ID upon registration.  He can do the same for bed and breakfasts, and youth hostels, and ...

 

Once he has a better idea of how limited his other options are, he'll be better able to present the situation to the housing people and may welcome your help in doing so.  Lots of prospective and returning students change their plans before school starts, so something should open up soon.  They just need to know how badly your son needs a dorm assignment.

 

Your son has worked so hard and accomplished so much.  IMO I'd do whatever it takes to get him on campus for the fall.  We all make mistakes, regardless of our ages, and hopefully this one is straightened out nicely with more emphatic phone calls or a visit.

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Online classes and alternate schedules--this is probably not an option. The OPs student is a dance performance major and something else. I can't see him having any classes easily taken away from campus. I also don't see these type of classes as scheduled in such a way to stack them all on two days a week. Due to his major he needs to try to take advantage of performance opportunities, which require rehearsals. So, I think the options for him have to be on campus or very close to campus or not enroll (endangering scholarship possibly). Yeah, it's time to aggressively search craigslist and drive to the housing office and camp out until you've got something close to positive.

 

I do not think not handling this situation means the OPs ds isnt ready for college. Having her model how to advocate for himself may be a good lesson for him to build on.

 

Depends.  My oldest is a dance minor and has many friends in the various dance/theatre/arts programs at her school.   Her classes with a minor were identical to the dance majors her first 3-4 semesters.  The couple of weeks right before a performance would certainly be the hardest since that's when rehearsals are most frequent (my dd has been in two shows and choreographed for two others - it was only one to two weeks where she had nightly rehearsals, depending on her role and the show).   Most freshman/sophomores only do 1-2 performances a semester unless they take off-campus gigs (this campus is right across the river from NYC and was on a recent list of top 10 schools for performance arts in the US).

 

A sophomore with ANY major is going to still have a bunch of gen ed classes to take - English, History, Foreign Language, Math, Science, Multi-culturalism, etc.  Many of these are easily taken online.

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A sophomore with ANY major is going to still have a bunch of gen ed classes to take - English, History, Foreign Language, Math, Science, Multi-culturalism, etc.  Many of these are easily taken online.

 

Except that:

 

1. My son did a year of dual enrollment prior to going full-time last year. Between that, the fact that he also did some CLEPs before he started at the university, and the fact that his primary major is a B.F.A., not a B.A., he's pretty much completed the gen ed. His schedule for this fall includes five dance classes, an acting class, private voice lessons, musicianship, to vocal ensembles and Human Development and Learning (required for the teaching aspect of the applied dance degree). 

 

2. His university doesn't do any online courses to speak of, as far as I know, and certainly none in his chosen fields.

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I'd probably step in and help him talk to housing, and if that doesn't net anything, help him find a safe place off campus. 

 

Yeah, he's a college student and nearly as adult, but it's a new life experience- there have been plenty of times when I have found myself facing a new problem and found someone to help navigate me through it. You could be that person for him.  It's good experience for a kid to have someone walk beside him as he works through this. He needs someone more experienced to help him ask the right questions and figure out the next step. 

 

I'd encourage him to use his tender age as part of his plea to get some help with housing.  Might not work, but it doesn't hurt to try. 

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Please don't be offended by what I'm going to say --

 

If his housing does work out, great. But it sounds like he is not that mature and could possibly benefit from living at home and doing a combination of working and maybe taking a class or two at the community college this year and trying again next year when he is that much more mature.

 

Our society has decided that everyone is NOT mature at 17 and then magically turns into a full-fledged adult at 18. We all know, however, that some 16yo's are completely capable of running their own lives and some 25yo's aren't. Some people just require a bit more time to grow before they're ready for independent adult-type responsibilities. (And your son is 17 -- so he is young to be dealing with college.)

 

If it works out that your son can live on campus, I think that would be great. But he is very young, and considering that he is young and that he hit some snafus last year as well, he might benefit from growing up a bit before he tries college again.

 

College is an EXPENSIVE place to mature -- and mistakes done at college can affect employment options later on.

 

Best wishes -- parenting requires so much wisdom.....

 

The thing is that he's already successfully completed a year on this same campus AND a year of dual enrollment locally the year before that. It's not like he isn't mature enough to handle it. This situation is the result of a series of issues that could have smacked any student of any age upside the head. (The problem last year was not, apparently, all that unusual. Every instructor he spoke to in the process of getting it resolved said it happens to at least a couple of students each semester. It was just bad timing, in his case, that it happened to overlap the deadline for housing deposits. And, from his point of view, he was doing the mature and responsible thing by dealing with his immediate daily responsibilities -- going to class, going to rehearsals and preparing for multiple shows, managing the administrative tasks for his new student dance organization, etc. -- before devoting time to resolving what he saw as a paperwork glitch.

 

I truly don't think this is a "maturity" issue as much as it is a "life experience" issue, which I do think are different things. He's actually really great at learning from his mistakes. For example, when he saw his grades for the first semester and understood that his ability to stay at school would be jeopardized unless he brought them up, he got himself on track and raised his grades the following semester enough to bring his cumulative GPA for the year to slightly above the level required. And, after the issue with registration last semester, he got very proactive about making appointments with both of his advisers and meeting with instructors in advance to get the waivers and permissions necessary to be completely registered for all of his courses for fall before he left campus in the spring.

 

So, I can guarantee, now that he understands the repercussions, he'll not take a housing deposit deadline -- or anything similar -- lightly again in the future.

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I would be inclined to ask about the possibility of doing the next semester from home online. Many colleges offer freshman classes this way. It's not ideal, but learning to handle his course load and a few hours of week of work with gentle help from mom and dad might be just what the doctor ordered if on campus housing does not work itself out soon. He can remain on the waiting list for second semester and generally spots do open up due to kids who drop out of school.

 

Be honest with him. Show him how many hours he'd have to work to maintain a tiny apartment IF he could find a roommate. Add to that the cost of finding a cheap car, registering it, and insuring it. He may not understand that he really is in no position to undertake this right now.

 

 

Again, he's not a freshman, but a sophomore returning to the same university at which he's already had a successful first year, one who has already completed (via dual enrollment, CLEPs and his freshman year) almost all of the usual gen ed courses. 

 

I suggested that he consider living at home this semester and taking classes at the community college to finish the associates degree he's working on concurrently with the B.A./B.F.A., but he point out, legitimately, that this plan would play havoc with his required course sequence. Each of his majors has a sequence of courses designed to be taken in a particular order, some of which are offered only in the fall or spring semesters, and he is signed up for a couple of those. If he can't take them, he won't be able to take the next courses in sequence in the spring, which will put him far behind AND mean he would not be able to participate in some opportunities in the spring and the following fall that depend on him having completed those courses. 

 

I have shown him the numbers, and he understands the issue. That is why I was asking folks to help brainstorm any approaches we had not already considered.

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I re-read your post and I see that some of the problem is that your son doesn't consider this to be too serious. 

 

Oh, no, he totally understands that this is serious. I think he's just been caught by surprise that, even though he did what he was told to do, there really may not be a place for him on campus. To be fair, I'm a bit surprised by that, too. As far as I know, this is the first year the university has not been able to accommodate all students who request housing, even if it means staying in overflow housing for a few weeks until things shake out. I'm especially surprised that they can't find a bed for a returning student. 

 

I think it's more accurate to say that he thought he was being mature and doing the right thing by patiently following the steps he was instructed to follow and that, now that it's clear that approach didn't work, he's a bit frozen because it matters so much to him and he doesn't know how to proceed.

 

At this point, he is adamant that he wants to try one more round of handling this himself. We have agreed that, if it doesn't work, I will begin assisting in a more hands-on way tomorrow. I have the morning off work and will be available to make some phone calls during business hours.

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I have shown him the numbers, and he understands the issue. That is why I was asking folks to help brainstorm any approaches we had not already considered.

 

 

Jenny, like I said, at 17, I still needed someone to advocate for me. No one did and I was in less than optimal housing. I think you've got to take the reins. Have him sit with you while you make phone calls. Have him scour craigslist with you. Schedule going to the housing office on a day when both of you are free and go early in the morning and walk from office to office until you make progress. That way he can learn how to get it done and how to have the right insistence to get a response. 

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I was curious, so I googled and found this!  http://grams-inn-tampa.com/ Apparently 7 minutes from campus by bus.  Very cool setting and right up his alley.  He might even be able to work there in exchange for "rent".  Beds as inexpensive as $25 per night.   

 

It does look cool, and I might consider it for when I need to be in town overnight to visit him. However, even $23 per night works out to over $600 per month, before they add hotel tax of 12%.

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Jenny, like I said, at 17, I still needed someone to advocate for me. No one did and I was in less than optimal housing. I think you've got to take the reins. Have him sit with you while you make phone calls. Have him scour craigslist with you. Schedule going to the housing office on a day when both of you are free and go early in the morning and walk from office to office until you make progress. That way he can learn how to get it done and how to have the right insistence to get a response. 

 

I have no problem stepping in. He has been adamant that he wanted to try and handle it himself first. We have agreed that, if the current round of phone calls and e-mails does not pan out, I will start contacting people myself tomorrow morning when I'm off work. 

 

I posted here, in part, because I am trying to continue preparing for alternate possibilities while I wait for the right moment to get more actively involved.

 

Something that occurred to me as I was driving to work today is that portions of Tampa are currently flooding severely enough to warrant evacuating people from some parts of town. I do wonder if that may be why he was having trouble getting people to answer/return his phone calls yesterday afternoon.

 

The whole situation is kind of a mess, on a variety of fronts. But I have been trying to respect his desire to manage this on his own, if possible, for as long as possible before undermining that impulse.

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Given the esteem he earned in the department I think he might approach his advisor, mentors or former profs for help. Maybe the senior folks in the department or on the scholarship board.

 

You are basically trying to find someone who can override the current situation.

 

I would also emphasize the fact that many options are out of reach because of his age.

 

If you have church or club affiliations you might call local churches or groups to ask about rooms to rent.

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Given the esteem he earned in the department I think he might approach his advisor, mentors or former profs for help. Maybe the senior folks in the department or on the scholarship board.

 

You are basically trying to find someone who can override the current situation.

 

I would also emphasize the fact that many options are out of reach because of his age.

 

If you have church or club affiliations you might call local churches or groups to ask about rooms to rent.

I had wondered about contacting a church as well. I was a youth director for a summer at a church that was not in my hometown. I lived with an elderly woman who provided me with room and board in exchange for helping her around the house.

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I had wondered about contacting a church as well. I was a youth director for a summer at a church that was not in my hometown. I lived with an elderly woman who provided me with room and board in exchange for helping her around the house.

I was going to suggest this as well. Most of the large churches around here have bulletin boards somewhere near an entrance, and they often have room-for-rent or room-wanted fliers. I would ask every church in the vicinity, as well as every campus ministry that has its own building, if you can drop in to peruse their bulletin boards. Most of our local churches will not allow non-members to post their own fliers, but some might.

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 I'm especially surprised that they can't find a bed for a returning student. 

 

This is something we've been asking about at every school - I was surprised too, when I found how hard it is for some returning students to get housing at some schools, even if they already live in a dorm and request next year's housing ASAP. (and it's worse when you aren't expecting to have a problem) 

 

I know it's tough for schools to make guarantees, but surely there are quite a few students without cars?? 

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Sometimes people in authority tend to brush off students, so I agree you may want to be the one having the conversation.

 

I also agree that a trip to campus may help, so you can look at the campus bulletin boards. At my kid's school, there are always lot of people searching for roommates at the last minute. They also have a facebook page for people looking for roomates. She and two friends are living off campus this year, and they found a fourth, a transfer student, through facebook. It is also cheaper for her to live off campus than on. Her apt is within easy walking distance, but they also have campus bus svc to near and close apartments. Does Tampa, the university or the city, have bus service?

 

I don't know what being under age would have to do with living off campus. Their apt didn't ask their ages, but did require the parent info. In her case, living off campus was cheaper than on campus.

 

Hoping you get it all worked out sooner rather than later.

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Check to see if the school has an ombudsman.  Because this situation was caused by a "perfect storm" of issues from several departments, an ombudsman is a good option, as it's their job to handle things that cross department lines.  They may be able to help directly, or they may be able to brainstorm ideas as to how to proceed.

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Sometimes people in authority tend to brush off students, so I agree you may want to be the one having the conversation.

 

I also agree that a trip to campus may help, so you can look at the campus bulletin boards. At my kid's school, there are always lot of people searching for roommates at the last minute. They also have a facebook page for people looking for roomates. She and two friends are living off campus this year, and they found a fourth, a transfer student, through facebook. It is also cheaper for her to live off campus than on. Her apt is within easy walking distance, but they also have campus bus svc to near and close apartments. Does Tampa, the university or the city, have bus service?

 

I don't know what being under age would have to do with living off campus. Their apt didn't ask their ages, but did require the parent info. In her case, living off campus was cheaper than on campus.

 

Hoping you get it all worked out sooner rather than later.

 

 

The university does not have bus service. It's a relatively small campus. The city does have some public transportation, but it's pretty limited, and I'm not sure how reliable. At one point, we were looking at how feasible it would be for my son to try for a teaching job at a dance studio just a few miles off campus, just a bit longer than he would be comfortable having to bike, especially before and after teaching a class or two. It turned out that, depending on the time of day, it might take longer than an hour each way to make the trip by bus. So, I'm extremely hesitant to have him counting on public transportation, especially at the odd hours he needs to move back and forth. (Rehearsals and shows often run late.)

 

The fact that he's underage means that a lease would be legally unenforceable. Consequently, most reputable landlords or rental agencies are not willing to rent to minors. In theory, that can be overcome with an adult co-signer, but there are also people/agents who simply don't want to be (or feel) responsible for a minor on the property without adult supervision.

 

The only way I see that living off campus would be less expensive for my son is if he could rent a minimal one bedroom that he could share with another student AND that would not require any significant extra costs for utilities or transportation to get to and from campus. It's possible, I suppose, but unless we can overcome the location, transportation and minor-can't-sign-a-lease issues AND he can find someone compatible who is also looking to live off campus, the finances don't even matter.

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Jenny, does he have any older friends living in non campus housing close to campus? I did when I was in college and when I needed to take an 8 week summer course during which the dorms were not open, a set of married friends let me sleep on an air mattress in the little office of their apartment for $150.00 a month. I showered there, but made myself scarce during meal times so they had their privacy and did not feel obliged to feed me. I ate a lot of peanut butter, granola, and fresh fruit for that period, but it did not hurt me.

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This is something we've been asking about at every school - I was surprised too, when I found how hard it is for some returning students to get housing at some schools, even if they already live in a dorm and request next year's housing ASAP. (and it's worse when you aren't expecting to have a problem)

 

I know it's tough for schools to make guarantees, but surely there are quite a few students without cars??

Not to derail, and I may not be understanding what you are saying very well, but MANY large universities do NOT guarantee on-campus housing after freshman year. This is the case at our local flagship. Some students do get university-managed housing, but it may require a commute to campus. However, the student bus system is quite good.

 

Not continuing to live on campus makes me sad for students. I lived on campus all four years. I can't imagine it any other way. Maybe moving off-campus one's senior year would be understandable. To me, living off-campus in an apartment and having to drive to college would make it seem more like a job.

 

I am very glad ds chose a school that guarantees on-campus housing for all four years.

 

I realize this is slightly off-topic, but it is wise to inquire during the college search about the availability of continued on-campus housing beyond the freshman year if that is important to you.

 

Jenny, I hope you are able to work something out.

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Some colleges are very upfront that only the first year or two are guaranteed on-campus housing, but others seem to try to hide that info.  Also, some campuses are split and require transportation for students to get to classes and other activities.  If the school provides good transportation, then it's certainly doable but it is something many students take into consideration.  It wasn't until acceptances arrived that we looked more closely at the various housing situations.   

 

I think that this year with many colleges getting higher yields than expected, it's probably not unusual for housing to be tight.  As for the number of students with cars on campus, it varies so much by school.   Urban campuses tend to have the fewest and more remote locations the most. Cars aren't needed as much with city transportation and parking spaces are at a premium and the opposite is generally true for the more rural locations. Also some colleges do not allow freshmen to have cars on campus.  

 

Hoping to hear good news today Jenny.

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The fact that he's underage means that a lease would be legally unenforceable. Consequently, most reputable landlords or rental agencies are not willing to rent to minors. In theory, that can be overcome with an adult co-signer, but there are also people/agents who simply don't want to be (or feel) responsible for a minor on the property without adult supervision.

 

 

 Yes, but that doesn't hold true for university areas. There are always a lot of people set up to rent to students (generally with parents signing even for those over 18).  

 

I do think it would be a lot better for your son to be on campus.  

 

He will probably wind up with housing, but the tough bit is still going to be where he stays if it doesn't come through right away. I agree with those who said that a visit to campus might be in order - people will remember you/your son better if they meet you, and problems get solved quicker in person. 

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Well, no good news yet.

 

I called the Residence Life office earlier to plead my son's case for housing. The woman I spoke to listened politely and agreed that my son is someone who should be offered housing if there is any space available. However, at the moment, there simply isn't space. And they honestly don't know whether or when there might be. I explained that, because of his age and lack of transportation and our budget, this is critical; if he does not get space on campus, he likely cannot return. I asked to speak to a supervisor. After a wait, I was told that the supervisor was not available to talk and assured once more that, if anything changes, they will notify us. In the meantime, they strongly recommend we look at other options.
 
I called the off-campus housing coordinator and left a lengthy, pleading voicemail explaining clearly that my son is a minor (meaning he likely cannot sign a lease even if we were comfortable having him off campus), that he has no vehicle and no driver's license (and would therefore need to live close enough to campus to walk and in a safe enough neighborhood to do so) and that our budget does not allow us to spend any more on off-campus housing than it would have cost us to pay for a dorm. I left my name and my son's, as well as my phone number, two times each in the message and more or less begged him to call me back and discuss whether this would be a feasible option under the circumstances.
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Is there a youth hostel in the area?

 

Not that I can find. The one hostel in town that I see listed anywhere is the one Teachin' Mine posted about earlier. 

 

I found two search engines that claim to help locate youth hostels. One returned no hits when I searched a variety of date options in Tampa. The other showed a page explaining that Tampa is not a good city for that kind of lodging and linked to the same facility Teachin' Mine found.

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