MBA Life: Student Housing

Hello and welcome to part III of my MBA Life blog series. Today I am addressing one of the B-School issues I am most passionate about: student housing. Oh, where do I start? I could honestly write a book on this topic alone but I'll keep it as concise as I can in my perpetual sleep deprived zombie state. Our experience:

As I mentioned in the admit weekend post, my husband and I had to skip out on several events because the kids were sick. Unfortunately, the housing tour was one of them. I remember driving through the community we would eventually move to during a brief bus tour but since the kids fell asleep we remained on the bus.

My husband and I loved the handful of parks within walking distance of the apartments, the graduate housing community center, and all the toys we saw strewn about the common areas. It looked perfect for our small family and once we found out how cheap it was (compared to our $1,500+ Vermont apartment) we were totally in.

Who cares what it looks like at that price! We saw a few grainy and dimly lit pictures of the apartments and braced ourselves. We moved in a year later. Next month is one year move in anniversary.

Here's the skinny on our graduate student housing experience.

It's small.

Obviously. I knew it was small but 600 +/- square feet just didn't quite register to me until I was standing in our tiny bedroom with a king bed, dresser, and forty something inch TV. Small. My husband and I are very minimalist by nature. Our previous apartment was big and sparsely decorated just how we like it. We are so crammed in here one would think we are hoarders. We aren't. There just isn't any room and we have thrown/given/donated as much as possible.

Visit your future apartment if you can. Take measurements. Arrive with as little as possible in tow. You'll be glad you did. Although it feels nice to have our small luxuries like a King sized bed and two obscenely large TVs there is a sacrifice of space and that can take a lot of getting used to.

We are managing it well. It took us a while to accept that the apartment will always be cluttered and never as clean as we would like it but this is temporary. I know a lot of you will be leaving your homes to move to school. I met one woman who was leaving a 3,000+ square foot house. Student housing might not be the option for you. Once you factor the cost and work associated with either storing or selling your furniture it might make more sense to invest in off campus housing.

Do what works for you. We are happy to be saving money on rent. We knew this would be a sacrifice but it isn't so bad. There isn't much space but the kids have room to play outside, a handful of parks within walking distance, and the community center across the street which often hosts fun activities for kids. We don't regret our decision but can't wait for some leg room.

Some of your neighbors might drive you crazy.

This could happen anywhere. It is definitely not specific to student housing BUT there are tons of people from all over the world and there will be culture clashes. Period. These include students barging into the study room of the community center with snacks, soda, and poker chips while you or your significant other tries to write a paper, people who cough in your face repeatedly and don't understand a word you are saying when you ask them to stop, and people who refuse to evacuate the room you've booked for your daughter's first birthday because they are playing a game of ping-pong. It happens. It's annoying. There are worse things but be prepared.


Obviously experiences will vary from school to school but student housing is fairly standard. Cornell does an amazing job maintaining the property, addressing any issues, and keeping families entertained. Although we are looking forward to a (much larger) place of our own we are pretty happy here. It's quiet, clean, and everything is within walking distance. The buses leave right across the street from our house which is fantastic because on campus parking is impossible. Definitely consider student housing if you don't have a large family, can handle only one bathroom, and don't mind doing your laundry at the community center (our basket got stolen once but in the thief's defense it was a pretty nice basket).

Here are some pictures of our apartment. I kept it as real as possible and took these throughout the day. I used a 35mm lens thinking it would give me a wide enough angle to show you a lot of the apartment. I was wrong. It's so small here I couldn't back up enough to give a truly representative view of each room. I'll try again in the future.


Next week: The Summer Internship