Attention sophomores: It is not imperative that you sign away a year of your freedom, opportunities and money almost two years in advance.
I am talking about off-campus housing, otherwise referred to as “senior housing,” by some.
I do understand the pressure to find the perfect house to live in with your best friends before, supposedly, all the good ones are gone.
Rumors spread about roughly how many houses are left, how many “good” houses are left and things like, “All of a sorority’s sophomore pledge class has signed for houses. We’re so behind.”
But here’s a bit of advice through The sparklingly clear lens of hindsight: the houses are not gone, nor are they even close to being gone. I have received emails with the subject line “Last house available for 2014-2015” from multiple landlords for the last ten months.
There are houses left, and there will always be houses left until you are personally ready to sign a lease.
It’s a travesty that any adult “businessperson” would play on the fears of 19-year-old kids to wrestle them into signing a binding contract, but it absolutely happens.
My future landlord and her husband reluctantly broke their “no signing until junior year” rule last year when an enormous amount of sophomores began looking at houses very seriously.
Because other landlords were allowing sophomores to sign, my landlord followed suit.
Personally, I think any self-respecting but also realistic and practical landlord would realize that asking a college student to sign a contract two years in advance that binds them to live somewhere for an entire year is not only insane, but also terrifying for the student.
As students, it can be assumed that we’ll all be on campus for the entirety of our senior year, correct? Well, no, not exactly.
I signed for my house with my three best friends, all of whom I had lived with previously, in March of my sophomore year.
Two weeks later, I found out that I could easily graduate a semester early. Instead of looking at the endless possibilities that I will have once graduating from college, I’m stuck with only what jobs I can get in Indianapolis, preferably close to campus.
While I have enjoyed my time here, it’s daunting to know that my options are fairly constrained, all because I signed a lease so early.
Likewise, a group of girls in my sorority signed a lease about a month before I did. Four months later, one girl from the group decided to run for president of our sorority for the 2014 year.
She won, but that meant she would have to live in our sorority house for her entire term, and she was stuck scrambling to find someone to fill her space and pay her rent in the off-campus house for only a semester.
Other possible issues conflicting with premature lease signings are endless. Should an opportunity to study or intern out-of-state or abroad arise, a student must turn it down.
Or, if the unthinkable happen, and a student fails or drops out of school, the contract may still be binding.
I plead this: Sophomores, do not feel pressured to sign a lease. There are still plenty of houses available and there will be houses available for a long time.
Also, should a landlord get his or her hands on this column, please think about what pressure these 19-year-old kids are under and what an incredibly unreasonable prediction you are asking them to make.
Also, consider developing a standard across the board which permits only juniors to sign leases.
If anything, you will only be ensuring a more stable group of tenants who respect you greatly for your patience.