Like thousands of young individuals, fresh out of high school and eager to experience university life, I took the plunge and decided to move 3 hours away in order to live on campus and attend the University of Wollongong. A year on, and going into my second year of not only university but also living on campus, my life is vastly different than to what it would have been if I chose to live at home. After a year of living on campus, I’ve noticed that there is a large amount of pressure to engage in social activities, including eating out, drinking and going out. In my experience, these added pressures simply didn’t exist whilst living at home. Although social life is a large aspect of the student experience, could the extra pressure of socialising be detrimental to the overall academic experience? This question prompted me to wonder if there is a similar pressure to socialise for those who live off campus, and to what extent does a students’ living situation effect their willingness and ability to socialise?
Drinking culture has always been an assumed rite of passage for university students. The expectation of ‘dorm’ parties has been set by the depiction of ‘college’ in American movies. Alcohol and partying have become a prevalent part of the student experience and is often widely accepted as the norm. Students who decide to move on campus, due to distance, travel restraints or a number of other reasons often experience the effects of group drinking and peer pressure. For individuals who are suddenly thrust into a living situation where they are surrounded by hundreds of other people, they can often become overwhelmed. There is always an opportunity to go drinking or socialise with friends, which can include eating out or spending money on other sociable activities.
It is evident that there is a certain pressure that accompanies living on campus, but can those who choose to live at home feel a similar pressure? In a 2012 study about individuals living on campus versus those who live off campus, Cross, Zimmerman and O’Grady hypothesises, “Students who lived with one or more roommates (often called suitemates) were more likely to consume alcohol more frequently than those with fewer roommates or who lived alone.” (Cross, Zimmerman, & O’Grady, 2009).
This issue is timely and relevant as the feeling to engage in social activities is stronger than ever, due to the rise of social media. “With social media portraying almost always only the best parts of people’s lives, I argue that peer pressure to appear successful and put-together actually increases during the transition to adulthood. The phenomenon of FOMO, the fear of missing out, has never been more unprecedented than in today’s digital age.” (Murillo, 2017). Along with the added pressure of social media contributing to one’s need to socialise, I would like to research the differences in social pressure for those who live on campus versus off campus.
There have been many studies into the effects of living on campus compared to living off campus, but most of these studies mainly focus on the effects a living situation has on an individual’s academic performance. I would like to focus my research on a students’ well being, expenditure, social media and the pressure of saying yes. I plan to use a number of research methods, including online surveys, online posts and interviews, with a focus on UOW students. There is a large amount of qualitative and quantitative data already established around my intended topic, indicating there is an interest for the issue to be explored; yet there is also room to undertake my own research and draw new and original conclusions. I hope to discover what differences living on versus off campus have on a student’s social life and the repercussions that accompany each situation.
Horvath. A (2012). College Living Environments and Stress: Commuters Versus On-Campus Residency. https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/iusburj/article/viewFile/19668/25752 [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].
Cross. J, Zimmerman. D, O’Grady. M (2009). Residence Hall Room Type and Alcohol Use Among College Students Living on Campus. [https://numerons.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/05-alcohol-use-among-college-students-living-on-campus.pdf [Accessed 16 Mar. 2018].
Acuho-i.org. (2012). Exploring the Effects of Campus Residential Settings on Educational Outcomes. [online], http://www.acuho-i.org/Portals/0/doc/res/EisenbergResearchNarrative.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2018].
Murillo, A. (2017). Opinion: Peer pressure doesn’t stop in university – The Charlatan, Carleton’s independent newspaper. Charlatan.ca. http://charlatan.ca/2017/09/opinion-peer-pressure-doesnt-stop-in-university/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2018].