Juniors hasten search for off-campus housing, prompt peers to follow suit



Alissa Ricci

Junior students typically begin their search for senior year off-campus housing after fall break and before winter break, though more students are starting earlier in the year, according to Kathy Byrnes, associate vice president for Student Life. 

“What happens is that some students start looking as early as September, which makes others start looking as well,” Byrnes said. She cited word of mouth as a strong impetus for students to begin their housing searches, as a small minority start searching and talking to their peers about off-campus housing. 

The University provides a variety of resources to help junior students who are not guaranteed a fourth year of on-campus housing find suitable off-campus housing. 

The Office of Student Life hosts information sessions about the search for off-campus housing in the junior apartment buildings during the fall semester, facilitated by resident assistants.

The Office of Residence Life offers an up-to-date listing of homes that are approved for student use by the local townships, in addition to other online information about living off-campus for rising seniors.

The Office of Residence Life also maintains a waiting list of junior students who sign up for on-campus senior year housing if vacancies arise, according to Tom DeMarco, director of Residence Life. However, this has traditionally been facilitated by the availability of housing in Kaul Hall at Rosemont College for transfer and senior students.

“I do not predict that living at Kaul Hall will be an option for senior students next year, as Rosemont College needs the space for its own students,” DeMarco said. In addition, DeMarco noted that the University must house about 200 to 250 senior students who are guaranteed a fourth year of on-campus housing through an academic and/or athletic program. 

Of these students, 50 to 60 percent end up staying on-campus, according to DeMarco. Coupled with the University’s commitment to house freshmen, sophomores and juniors who want to live on-campus, this reduces the likelihood that non-guaranteed seniors will be able to fill vacancies.

However, Byrnes said that students have an increased number of off-campus housing options.

“Over the last two to three years, more and more apartment complexes have rented to students,” Byrnes said. 

Senior students are dispersed in several different directions from campus, but housing located close to campus and easily accessible by foot, car or public transportation tends to be most desirable, according to Byrnes. 

One apartment complex that has attracted several Villanova students is Home Properties of Bryn Mawr, referred to by students as “Home Props.” 

“These past few years it has been like a turnstile,” said Robert DeLong, property manager for Home Properties of Bryn Mawr. “Of the 316 apartment units, approximately 200 of them are occupied by Villanova students,” 

He credited word of mouth, along with advertisements, as responsible for the trend of more students showing up early to check out the apartment complex as a senior year housing option. 

Kerri Haltom, regional vice president for Home Properties, is impressed by students’ initiative.

“This shows me that students are thinking seriously about their futures and where they want to live next year,” Haltom said. She states that with the influx of student interest in Home Properties, the opportunity arose to improve the quality of the apartments with deluxe upgrades. 

Transportation is just one issue that affects junior students as they search for off-campus housing, along with cost of living, property liability, furnishing their living spaces and dealing with landlords. 

“It will be difficult to know I will be dealing directly with someone about housing, and it is not just assigned,” junior Jim Chatterton said. “It’s a much greater responsibility and is an unsettling step into the real world post-college.” He plans to begin the search for off-campus housing later this semester. 

Many junior students have begun to consider off-campus housing possibilities for next year, and many reach out to current senior students as a valuable resource. 

“My older sister went to Villanova so I asked her questions about where to live and what we should expect to pay,” senior Vinny Solano said. “My roommate and I are very happy with our choice of off-campus housing, and a few girls came over with our landlord to view the apartment for next year.”

“I’ve been talking to a lot of senior friends and other juniors who are also already looking,” junior Sarah Zinn said. “I would rather not wait until the last minute.”

Along with the usual group of juniors who are searching for off-campus housing, Byrnes noted that a small but stable group of sophomores opt to move off-campus a year early. 

Living off-campus provides students with increased freedom and responsibilities as most seniors live in the residential communities surrounding the University. 

Junior Stephen Jackson has already located a house in Wayne for next year and paid a security deposit with his roommates. 

But Byrnes advises junior students that it is possible to find off-campus housing as late as March or April, in her experience. 

“Don’t panic if you haven’t started looking, Byrnes said. “A lot of students haven’t started looking.”