Students heading off to university for the first time have a lot of important decisions to make. If you rush into them or don't give them the consideration that they deserve, it can end up harming the overall experience that you have. Below are 4 things that every female student needs to consider when looking for the best accommodation for her and her friends.
Who Does Your University Recommend?
Every university will maintain a list of approved providers that it has vetted and can recommend to students. These options should be the first ones that you consider as they are the most reliable choices available to you. Whenever you rent from private business, whether a student or not, there is always a risk that they will be one of the bad ones.
For women especially, it is important that you rent your property from someone that you trust, at least on a professional level. Thankfully, the number of rogue landlords out there is small and most students won't have any problems with their accommodation at all. However, there is always a risk when you rent from a private landlord that they will try and fleece you. If you do start looking beyond your uni's approved list, make sure to thoroughly investigate anyone you might rent from.
What Kind of Amenities Will You Require?
Different people will have different requirements for their properties. Some people are happy with the bare minimum; all they want is a roof over their heads. Other people will be aiming for a greater level of style and will be willing to spend more to get it.
If you fall into the latter category, businesses like Collegiate will provide you with luxurious lodgings up and down the country. For an example of what they offer, check out the Newcastle Uni accommodation from Newcastle Collegiate. Collegiate's student accommodation is a step up from what most others are offering.
How Will You Get Back After a Night Out?
Socialising is just as much a part of the university experience as the learning. If you are doing lots of one and not much of the other, you aren't going to be getting the most out of your university course. However, it is important to consider your safety and ensure that you have an easy path to and from your front door and wherever you will be spending your nights out.
Most university towns and cities will have decent public transport infrastructure, but this can vary, especially with more remote or rural universities. Even if the centre of town is only a short walk away, you should avoid walking home alone at night whenever possible, especially if you have been drinking.
Can You Afford It?
There's no sense in allowing yourself to fall head over heels in love with a property that you aren't realistically going to be able to afford. Remember, you need to be able to cover the costs of renting the property as well as your living costs. That means that you need to leave enough room in your budget for your food, utility bills, and other expenses on top of your rent.
Finding the right accommodation is important. Where you live and who you live with will have a significant impact on the kind of experience that you have at university.
"Who are you meeting for lunch this week?"
Without fail, my former boss would ask me this question in every weekly status we had. And I dreaded the question. Because my answer was generally a stammering "Umm… No One." Occasionally I could remember what I actually had for lunch. And almost always it was sitting in my windowless cube eating a soggy sad sandwich.
I didn't understand why "who I had lunch with this week" was worthy of being a topic on our weekly status. After all, I was only 6 months into this new job. I was still figuring out how to pull data from Nielsen. I was still figuring out how to write an innovation brief. I was still trying to figure out where the bathrooms were in this maze of a building.
And despite knowing this question would come up in every weekly status, I was reluctant to change my behavior. I didn't see the value in the question. I didn't see the importance of it in my career. I didn't understand why I had to have lunch with anyone.
Because I hated the idea of having to network, to meet people, to put myself out there. Because networking was something slimy and strange and weird and scary. It made my stomach hurt, my throat go dry. And I could feel a faint headache coming on.
Even Oxford's definition of networking only reaffirmed my fears of what networking looked like: the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.
Because please don't ask me to walk into a room where I don't know anyone. And stand in the corner sipping a bad glass of Chardonnay. Please don't ask me to slide my business card out and not so subtly shove it in your face. And ask you to do something for me. Please don't ask me to network. Because I hate networking.
And I used to hate networking (okay, maybe hate is too strong.) I still really dislike the term. "Networking" seemed about getting something from someone. Or someone getting something from you. A favor, a job, a referral. "Networking" seemed very transactional. And someone shoving a business card at you (which happened to me recently at event) only solidified by feelings.
And over the years, I came to really understand that networking wasn't about "the action or process of interacting with others." It was about building authentic connections. It was about meeting people who were different than you. It was about expanding my community. And creating new communities. It was tapping into more and more communities I could belong to.
And as I slowly started to change my view on networking- I mean building authentic connections- I started to realize my communities were more inclusive than I thought. My best friends from middle school. Former bosses. College Alumni I met after we had graduated. Colleagues from past companies. Vendors and agency partners I had once worked with. Colleagues I had once managed. As my family expanded, my husband, my two sister-in laws and my brother in-law. A whole host of fabulous cousin-in-laws. My baby brother as his career skyrocketed. And fellow parents in my kids' school.
I still hate networking. And I love building connections. And helping to build connections and be a bridge for other people.
Now, when I go to a large event, I try to go with a friend. We have a drink at the bar and then part ways to try and make new friends. If we don't authentically connect with other people, and we have made the effort, we always have each other to back to.
Now, I try to meet one new person a week at my company or in my broader community, or reconnect with someone I miss seeing. (This doesn't always have to be in person, can be text, Zoom or Facetime.) And if you can't commit to doing that, that you should seriously relook at your schedule. I thank my former boss for that constant reminder.
Now, I joined Luminary, a women's collaboration hub in NYC, which has been life changing for me. I am also on the advisory board. It's all about women supporting and lifting each other up- to get more money, get that next big promotion, or start their own venture. It's a built-in community of unwavering support.
Now, I am working on expanding my community of moms. Not too long ago, I worked up the nerve to ask a fellow mom in my daughter's class if she wanted to get together. She thought I meant a playdate. I meant drinks. And after one late night out drinking, I have bonded with a whole new set of badass women.
And all of these communities. I am there for my communities. And they are all there for me. Referral for a job at my company. Coaching on how to survive a bad boss. Advice on how to ask for more money. Supporting each other as we care for aging parents. Candid feedback on why they didn't get that promotion. Commiserating over a cocktail on which working parent had the worst week ever.
So please don't ask me to network. Because I hate it. And well actually I don't have a business card to give you. I haven't printed one in four years.