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Your Unofficial Guide to Living Off Campus

View of an off campus room

You hear all about how glamorous life on campus is and how living in the dorms allows you to find your people and make connections. But how do you stay connected and get the full “college experience” if you live off campus? As someone who has never lived on campus, I’m here to give you an unofficial guide to staying connected with college experience while living off campus.

Explore events and activities on campus

If there’s anything I miss about freshman year, it’s the thrill and freedom of exploring Boise for the first time. One of the first activities I went on was sunset hike to Table Rock with a group of students (the most Boise-esque adventure). I had breathless conversations with new people as we trudged up the hill. At the top, I was in awe at the sight of the blue sky fading to orange like a blanket over the twinkling city lights. I felt at home overlooking the place I would spend the next four years (or more).

From then on, I took any opportunity to make friends and get involved in campus events including:

  • Bronco Night
  • Homecoming parade
  • Football and basketball games
  • Bronco Shindig
  • Christmas tree lighting ceremony
  • Spring Fling
  • Involvement Fair
  • Career Fair
  • Concerts in the Extra Mile Arena
  • Cycle classes at the Rec Center
  • Yoga on the Blue

You name it!

There’s plenty of fun events that allow you to meet people and make lasting memories. You don’t need to make it to all of them but try going to a few to connect with the Boise State experience.

Checking out the Rec Center is a must. You can hit the gym and explore activities including intramural sports, rock climbing, swimming, workout classes, racquetball, basketball and spaces for running and dancing. I also highly recommend visiting outdoor programs to learn about outdoor trips that allow you to learn outdoor skills, go on adventures and meet new people.

Selfie of students hanging out on the blue turf

Connect with campus resources

I prefer words over numbers so I’m not a math girl. When I had to take daunting math courses, I jumped at the chance to utilize the tutor labs. From algebra to calculus and accounting, the student tutors helped me with assignments, test corrections and exam prep and were patient with me when I showed up 10+ hours a week. Who knows if I would have passed without their help!

There’s a host of resources on campus waiting to be used by students so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Here’s a handful I recommend checking out:

Provides free learning assistant sessions, peer academic consultations, drop-in tutoring hours and more.

If you have a student ID you can get your fill of free groceries. A. Life. Saver.

It will help you wherever you are in your writing process.

Can help answer any questions about career exploration, changing majors, building your resume and more.

Always are ready to support students with individualized, group or virtual counseling

They’re there to help you in any way academically and answer any questions about your major.

Are there to advocate for students in several areas from first-year students to on-campus employees to out of state students.

Always posts content to inspire, motivate and encourage students while sharing stories about the student experience like the one you’re reading!

Career Services booth

Find a job on campus

Fall of my sophomore year I approached the Student and Communication and Marketing booth at a career fair on the Quad and got hired as a content writer which has given me an opportunity to experience (quite literally) Student Life at Boise State. A friend and former Student Life employee shared how she found her people as a commuter student by working on campus too.

Working on campus allows you to build connections and stay in the loop on what’s happening around campus. In fact, you can check out another Unofficial Guide I wrote for Student Life here to learn more about finding a job on campus!

The best aspects about working on campus are getting work experience along with a paycheck, building connections and networking with people on campus. The employers understand the demands that come with being a student. Plus, if you’re already on campus for classes, you might as well work there too and save some money on gas. So, keep your eyes out for job postings on Handshake and attend career fairs.

Join student groups

Entering college, I was nervous about finding people I genuinely connected with. I made instant connections at a campus ministry, Cru, and formed friendships that felt more genuine than some that I’d had for years which is something I learned about new and old friendships. It was a relief to see familiar faces as I walked across campus in a sea of students. We’d go to the dining hall together before weekly gatherings and go to campus events together. Now, a few of those friends are my roommates.

Where did I find clubs? Engage, involvement fairs and word-of-mouth.

You can search keywords in Engage to find clubs with your interests. I searched “dance” and discovered the Bronco Dance Club which I’ve loved being a part of for the past two years. Keep your eyes out for involvement fairs where you can meet the leaders of clubs and student organizations. Lastly, something I wish I would’ve known about getting involved, is to simply ask fellow students what they’re involved in to learn about new opportunities.

Bonus tip: take your earbuds out when walking around campus and listen to what’s happening around you! And look up from your phone to see familiar faces you might otherwise miss.

Members of broncos dance club

Life off campus

Housing

Hunting for housing can be a tedious waiting game, so start your search early in the semester. The Off-campus Housing Marketplace is a great place to start. You can explore what housing options near campus are available and see students who are looking for roommates. Living with roommates is a learning experience of its own. If conflicts arise you’re in luck because we have a story about handling roommate conflicts. Once you land your new crib, we have an unofficial guide to renting to help you be a responsible renter.

Commuting

My first two years of undergrad, I lived in an off-campus apartment, just a 15-minute walk or six-minute bike ride (my fastest bike ride was 3 minutes!) away from the heart of campus. The Greenbelt was my trusty route to school. A safe, beautiful, paved trail stretching 25 miles where I’d always run into friends, fellow students and friendly dogs.

If you drive, you don’t want to get caught parking somewhere you shouldn’t on campus. Trust me…I have a collection of parking tickets to prove it. Be sure to purchase a parking permit to make life easier. If you don’t mind parking further away to get some extra steps in, make sure you’re aware which streets you’re allowed to park on. Familiarize yourself with the parking rules, map and other parking options such as satellite parking.

Stationed along the Greenbelt is the Bronco Shuttle system. The shuttles pick up students from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. through campus and downtown. Including the beloved driver who shared what a day in the life of a shuttle driver is like, Beau Avery.

Commuting can feel like an inconvenience. But it can also be a time to clear your head before classes or to catch up on your favorite podcasts. In fact, we’ve launched The Get a (Student) Life Podcast just for you! Catch up on conversations with students and faculty about how they’re impacting campus and what they’re passionate about. Tune in and connect with the student experience.

Get a (student) Life podcast

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Author

  • Molly

    Molly

    Content Writer