Financial Advantages, One of the Many Perks of Living On Campus

April 25, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Maggie Ashworth
mashworth@smu.edu

When it comes to a college student’s living situation, students face the decision of living on campus, in a residence hall, or off campus, typically in an apartment or condominium. At Southern Methodist University, first-year students are required to live on campus, but after that, they can move out of the residence halls.

A long list of benefits comes with living on campus, from the convenience of being close to classrooms to the security of knowing that SMU is a safe environment with police officers constantly patrolling the area. However, on-campus living also offers financial advantages.

When freshman students move on campus, it’s usually their first time living away from home, and their first experience with real financial responsibility. At SMU, the average cost of living in the dorm, in a double or triple occupancy room, is $8,071 per year. Students living on campus are also required to purchase a meal plan, ranging from $253.50 to $2,649.50 per semester.

While living on campus may seem pricey, research has been done to compare the expenses of living on campus versus the price of living off campus. According to Karen Michlik, the assignments coordinator for residence life and student housing at SMU, there may not be much of a financial difference between each living situation.

“Well, we’ve looked at trying to compare, and when you get down to the breakdown of the utilities you have to pay, you’re not saving money off campus, unless you’re living with several roommates,” Michlik says.

Michlik also feels that living on campus provides benefits that cannot be found in off-campus housing. She says that student residents have everything at their fingertips. “On campus you’ve got the security, you’ve got everything billed to your student account, you don’t have to worry about utility bills. It’s got everything you need.”

Although the overall cost of living on-campus may rival the cost of living off-campus, residence-hall lifestyle is designed in way that can help students be more financially secure with fewer worries, especially since bills are paid upfront.

Freshman student Alexa Morawski agrees that living on campus comes with its advantages. She is glad that she doesn’t have to deal with the burden of paying for groceries, since she has a meal plan, and feels that everyday expenses will be more of a shock once she is not living on campus. “I think students would notice the price of living in an apartment much more. I think that once it is our job to pay the bills, the price of living off campus will seem much more expensive than we thought,” Morawski said.

On campus living also offers opportunities, such as becoming a residence assistant (RA), which helps students save money on room, board, and meal plans.

Joshua Parr, a senior at SMU, has lived on campus all four years and has spent the last three years working as an RA. For Parr, his position as an RA has been a financial benefit, as well as a valuable resource for staying involved on campus.

“Coming into college the plan was always to be an RA. My parents said that if I wanted to live on campus, the RA position would help financially. I never considered not being an RA because I would not be able to live close to campus if I wasn’t one,” Parr said. “It helped financially but the relationships I made and people I’ve been able to influence during my time as an RA means a lot to me.”

Parr’s role as an RA means that he is a resource for residents, helps with administrative responsibilities, and is required to be on call at least once a week. However, by accepting these responsibilities, Parr receives free room and board, as well as a meal plan. Parr estimates that he has saved around $15,000 each year he has worked as an RA.

At SMU, it is students’ decision on where they live after their first year of college. However, the opportunities and financial benefits of staying on campus overall can serve as a money-saving tool.

Gas Price Increases Affect the Economy

April 21, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Kimmy Ryan
kryan@smu.edu

 

Facebook Facts: How Social Networking is Taking Over

February 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Logan May
ljmay@smu.edu

As college students sit in class, most of them can be seen checking their friends’ statuses, looking at new pictures from the weekend, or responding to an event invitation.

Facebook is everywhere – on laptops, cell phones, and it even made its premier as a feature film movie in The Social Network. As the social networking site becomes more popular, people everywhere are quickly making it their homepage and go-to site for information.

“Sometimes I get on Facebook and two hours later I forgot what I logged on for,” SMU graduate student Neely Stoller says.

Facebook currently has over 500 million active users who spend a total of 700 billion minutes per month on the networking site. America currently leads the number of users list with almost 150 million users, followed by Indonesia with roughly 35 million users.

The average Facebook user may spend more time on the networking site than they think. On average, users spend more than 55 minutes a day browsing the site. Some more Facebook averages: 130 friends per user, 8 friend requests per month, and 25 comments on Facebook content each month.

Although Facebook was initially intended to target college students, more than 1.5 million local businesses have active pages. Summer Burke, Web Presence Professional, uses Facebook on behalf of businesses to promote fan interaction within companies. At the end of 2010, Google changed the way they rank pages on their results page. Instead of just looking at keywords, they are looking at social interaction and business’ reputations.

“Facebook is a great place to publicize upcoming events and to let fans get a more personal look inside a business,” Burke says.

Barbara Morganfield, SMU Education Senior Lecturer, has developed a Facebook group for her students to use throughout the semester.

“I wanted students to have a way to go beyond what was assigned in class and begin to look for issues that were of interest to them and to have a place to share that information,” Morganfield says.

Facebook provides students the opportunity to put down the pencil and paper and interact with their peers. Morganfield adds that the site allows quick feedback on homework, discussions, and lectures.

Within the last year, Facebook has rapidly expanded. Between 2010 and 2011, total users has jumped 42.4 percent from 103 million to 146 million. Female users make up 55 percent of the site, with males trailing at 43.4 percent.

The 18 to 24-year-old demographic has made a huge jump in active users since 2010 with a 74.1 percent increase. So why is the site expanding at such a rapid rate? The desire to keep in touch is what attracts people, along with the “need to connect and socialize,” says Morganfield. Even the 55 and older demographic have increased by almost 59 percent from 2010. Grandparents are now joining the site to see pictures of their grandchildren who may live in a different state. What used to take days to send, now takes a click of the mouse.

“Now, with a lot of my friends getting married, it’s really easy to create groups to exchange addresses and make event invitations really quickly, and for free,” Burke says.

Facebook is everywhere; and with smart phones, Facebook mobile users are twice as active as non-mobile users. There are over 200 mobile operators in 60 countries promoting the use of Facebook. With numbers like that, it is no wonder people are constantly using their phones.

While there are many benefits to using Facebook, such as networking, sharing ideas, and staying connected, there are some downfalls to the site. If more and more college students are using the site, that could mean less time spent on academics. People may be checking Facebook on their phones while driving and could cause an accident. Children could be playing outside with their friends, but instead they are sitting at the computer for hours at a time.

A Facebook fact that many parents may fear: Drugs are the highest rated public interest on the site. In 2010, a mere 28,000 users exchanged drug- related posts. Now, over 355,000 users are talking drugs. Sex and Rock and Roll trail drugs for the next top interests.

Technology is a powerful tool that is a huge part of day-to-day life. Facebook continues to expand every day with more and more online opportunities for its users. It is no wonder millions of Americans are addicted to the social networking site.