Last weekend, I volunteered at the Honors Invitational. While I was there, a group of older Honors students started talking about how moving off campus has affected their Honors experience. I hadn’t given much thought to the topic before, but as they were talking, it got me thinking, and I realized that living off campus has really changed Honors for me.
I only lived in the Honors residence halls (Miller, to be exact) for my first year at Ferris, which was last year. I loved having my own room, being close to everything happening on campus, and only being a few doors down from the majority of my friends. However, I disliked living in the actual dorms (the rooms were depressing to me–I always felt trapped), walking everywhere, and having to eat at the Rock every day. One year was enough to make me want to move out into a cozy apartment with multiple rooms and a kitchen for making my own food.
I absolutely love my apartment and am glad I no longer live in Miller, but overall, moving here has made staying connected through Honors much more difficult.
When I lived in Miller, I was constantly surrounded by other students who had the same requirements and experiences, so we frequently talked about Honors and I was very informed about the happenings of the program. Now, none of my roommates are Honors students and I’m not taking any Honors classes, so my only interaction comes from social media or meetings with the Honors staff. I try to set up meetings every few weeks to go into the Honors Office to stay up to date, but it’s just not the same.
I also find myself attending cultural events much less frequently this year. Last year, all I had to do was walk down the hallway and I could find other students to go to basically any event with. Now, I have to plan ahead of time, text my Honors friends I’m still in touch with, and drive to campus just to go to one event. As a busy college student, life frequently gets in the way and I find myself missing events with the mindset of, “Oh, you can go to the next one. No big deal.” Those “no big deals” add up over time, though.
Living in an apartment hasn’t really affected volunteering as much for me. I very rarely do on-campus service, but I recently started volunteering at Our Brothers Keeper, a homeless shelter in Big Rapids, and I really like it. I went for the first time less than two weeks ago and I’ve already logged eight hours. To any students looking for fulfilling volunteer work, I highly recommend OBK Shelter.
Making the transition from being an on-campus to off-campus Honors student is pretty difficult, and I know I’m not the only student who feels that way. It takes more effort and commitment to stay informed and involved, but ultimately, isn’t that what Honors is about–putting in more effort to better yourself? I love the Honors Program and all it stands for and I have no intention of leaving, but my advice to current Honors students: Start thinking about and planning how Honors will change for you before you flee the residence halls for apartments. It will make the transition much easier.