Moving off campus comes with a minefield of complications that may seem more frustrating than rewarding. But the experience of living on one’s own before fully leaving the Georgetown community is valuable preparation for the real world.

Off-campus life provides a lesson in personal and financial responsibility. Many new off-campus residents had perhaps never used a checkbook or managed bank deposits until the ink dried on their senior or junior year lease. The benefits of planning ahead pay off for students who snag the most reasonable or convenient houses in West Georgetown. And students who have grown used to leaving air conditioning and lights on at home and in Georgetown dorms finally face the unpleasant reality of a staggering utilities bill at their doorstep.

In the housing search, discrepancies in income and living preferences between friends can be challenging. And Georgetown’s commitment to housing 90 percent of students on campus by 2025 as a part of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement means fewer future students will be able to take advantage of the surrounding neighborhoods. Juniors and select sophomores currently in the throes of this process should take heart in the fact that working to resolve these tensions will prepare them for future negotiations with landlords and roommates.

The first year of college is often referenced as the most important step in one’s transition to adulthood. Less acknowledged, however, is the essential personal growth resulting from the jump to off-campus housing.

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