Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

“Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”

An investigation into the benefits of university students living off-campus against the benefits of living at home.

Tayla Bosley

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to the voluntary survey participants who provided this project with its basic findings.

Also thanks to my classmates and tutors who assisted me through this journey of research with sound advice and constructive criticism.

 

Introduction

It is clear that in the area of Wollongong and its surrounding suburbs, there is a high amount of university students who live off-campus.

Yet what is not clear is why they choose to live off-campus when they could continue living at home. There is also fairly limited research into how the off-campus university students view their living arrangement.

Thus this project is purposed to investigate these issues, by researching the opinions of university students who live either at home or off-campus. The topics included in this research are: work hours, free time, financial stress, and academic achievement.

Trends found in this research were:

  • Students living at home spend less money per week, but travel further to university.
  • Off-campus students most value their independence, and believe that their living arrangement has had a positive impact on their academic achievement.
  • Students living at home mainly did so due to cost.

This report will describe the methodology and findings of the research conducted, as well as the conclusions drawn, and further points of study needed.

 

Aims

The principal aim of this research project is to answer the question, ‘How do university students view their current living situation?’ Specifically in contrast of living off-campus and living at home.

To determine these opinions, two surveys were published, and a critical analysis of secondary sources was conducted.

This project aims to conduct these surveys with respect and consideration to the voluntary participants. The research also aims to present its findings accurately, fairly, and be held accountable to the conclusions that are drawn at the end of the project.

 

Methodology

Survey

Two surveys were issued, through the online survey creator SurveyMonkey.com, one for students who were living off-campus to complete, and one for students living at home to complete.

These surveys investigated:

  • The financial situation of each living arrangement.
  • Whether either group felt that their living arrangement had had a negative impact on their academic achievement.
  • What were the reasons behind each student choosing their living arrangement.

Each survey, along with the participant information sheet, was linked on the Facebook page, ‘UOW Communications and Media Studies’, my own personal Facebook page, and the Facebook page, ‘Australian Nerdfighters’.

Content Analysis

Content analysis of secondary sources was also completed to provide an extensive sounding board of research to either reflect my findings or disagree with my research.

  1. Andrews, B. and Wilding, J. (2004). The relation of depression and anxiety to life-stress and achievement in students. British Journal of Psychology, [online] 95(4), pp.509-521. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/0007126042369802/abstract [Accessed 17 May 2016].

This peer-reviewed article indicates that financial stress caused by living out of home while at university can lead to significant issues in university students. These issues include high levels of anxiety and depression. The article states that these issues may affect academic performance, but that there are also many other factors that can contribute to a decrease in exam performance.

  1. Bennett, R. (2003). Determinants of Undergraduate Student Drop Out Rates in a University Business Studies Department. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(2), pp.123-141.

This journal articles states that financial hardship can play a powerful role in a student’s decision to leave or stay at university. Which when compounded with poor academic achievement, and a lack of commitment, is likely to lead to a decision to leave. Financial stress is associated with students that are living out of home, and self-esteem is explored as a crucial role in the withdrawal process.

  1. Pepe, K. and Bozkurt, I. (2010). Free time spending ways of university students, and the benefits they gained through these activities. Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education & Sport/Sci;2010, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p253.

This article investigates the way that university students spend their free time. The activities found included going to the cinema, reading books and newspapers and playing sports. This research is separated depending on the gender, living situation, work habits, and university hours of each survey respondent. The article concludes that free time is seen as beneficial to the health, education, and happiness of students.

 

Findings

  1. Spending

The main indicator of disadvantage for this research project, was the disparity between the weekly living costs of home students and off-campus students.

On a weekly average, home students spent $103.75. Where off-campus students, including rent, food, utilities, had an average of $292.00 per week. Although it must be noted that 2 of the respondents do not pay rent while living out of home.

The answers to the ‘describe you financial situation’ part of the question provided detailed insight into how the respondents felt about their situations. For the off-campus students, keywords included ‘struggling’ and ‘scraping by’, with one respondent answering that their situation was ‘unideal’ as their youth allowance was still, from the time of the survey 3/5/16, being processed by the department of Human Services since December 2015.

The home students had very little to say about their situation, with only 1 respondent answering with ‘tight’ in regards to their weekly spending of $85.

This trend of off-campus students paying more per week is compounded by the University of Sydney article (USYD, 2016), which estimates that a university student, living alone and out of home, spends an average of $500 per week on accommodation, food, and utilities.

 

  1. Travel

TIME OF TRAVEL

Home students, on average, travelled for 1 hour, mostly by car or train. Whereas off-campus students had an average of 15 mins, with their main source of transport being the bus, or walking.

 

  1. Opinions on Living Arrangement

For the off-campus students, the overwhelming response to the question, ‘What is the best part about living off-campus?’ was the independence and freedom of living away from family, and with friends or housemates with similar interests.

Other answers that were found in the survey and other sources include, privacy, easy ability to relax, and proximity to campus (Brightknowledge.org, 2016).

For home students, the best part of living at home was undoubtedly the cheaper lifestyle that enables them to save their money. But also ranked high was being with their family. Other reasons include less stress, family responsibilities and the familiarity of living at home (The Student Room, 2013).

Home students were also asked what is the worst part of living at home. With the majority answering along the lines of ‘no independence’ or ‘no freedom’. Which seems to be a reoccurring theme among university students who live at home (Hillman, 2015). Other answers included being distanced from ‘uni-life’ and the commute to university.

 

  1. The Benefits of the Other Living Arrangement

For off-campus students, the part of at-home living they most wished they could have incorporated into their lifestyle was their mum’s cooking, and the no or low cost living experienced by those living at home.

For home students, the majority answered with ‘nothing’. Meaning that there was no part of off-campus living that appealed to them enough to want it in their own living arrangement. However, the 2nd highest answer was ‘independence’.

 

  1. Free Time

For off-campus students, the main answers to what they do in their free time included; internet, reading, playing games, hanging out with friends, and Netflix. These activities seem to represent the wider literature on the subject of university students’ free time (Pepe and Bozkurt, 2010, de Klerk, 2014) which also included going for walks, listening to music, and going to the movies.

Home students had a much smaller range of activities included in their answers than the off-campus students. The two majority answers were reading and watching TV. Also included was seeing friends, going on the internet, and sport.

 

  1. Hours of work

Out of the 20 respondents for the off-campus survey, only 11 reported to be steadily employed. The other 9 claimed the pension, holiday work, and youth allowance as their regular sources of income.

HOURS WORKED

Unfortunately it appears that the data collected from the survey, compared to other established sources, is not applicable, (Whirlpool, 2016, Horin, 2011). According to research, the optimal, and most common hours of work per week for university students is 8, with at least 80 % participating in employment.

Conversely, students living at home seemed to work more than the OC students. With 12 out of 17 reporting employment.

 

  1. Why Choose that Living Arrangement

The participants for the off-campus survey overwhelmingly responded with their family home being too far away to be a feasible commute as their reason for living in off-campus housing rather than at home, which agrees with most other sources (Hillman, 2015, Newman, 2015). Other reasons also included commutes being too long, the independence of living out of home, and family issue.

For home students, almost all respondents (16/17) included ‘saving money’ as one reason for why they chose to remain at home. Other reasons included being close to friends and family, and ‘just because’. One respondents in depth answer shed some light on how money can impact the decision of where to live for university students; ‘I hate it but I can’t afford to leave.’

 

  1. Impact on academic achievement

REAXTION

Despite the financial hardships and stress (Andrews and Wilding, 2004, Bennett, 2003, Lim and Teo, 1997) usually associated with living off-campus, the results of the survey had a majority of positive impacts on the academic achievement of those that lived off-campus.

Conversely, home students indicated that their low-cost lifestyle (Newall, 2010) mostly had a negative impact on their academic achievement. This was reported as the result of noise issues, family and pet distractions, and long travel times that took up hours of potential study.

  1. Advice/ Questions

For home students, most respondents had questions regarding pricing, budgeting, paying bills and renting.

Off-campus students had many insightful pieces of advice for home students that may be looking to move out:

  • Just do it
  • Budget!!!
  • Do it in stages
  • Stay at home to save money
  • Take care of yourself
  • Bring things that comfort you i.e. teddies
  • Keep in contact with friends and family

 

Conclusion

In terms of answering, ‘How do university students view their current living situation?’ Specifically in contrast of living off-campus and living at home.’ It appears that neither group feels particular negative or positive towards their current living arrangement.

It does appear as though home students view their living arrangement as disruptive towards their university learning and academic achievement, but the survey sample is far too small to be able to definitively conclude on this issue, and more research is definitely needed.

It is evident that off-campus students have a higher financial burden than their home student counterparts. But it does not appear as though this causes them higher amounts of stress, or to work longer hours than home students, a new research project with a wider sample may produce more definitive answers.

Home students definitely need more readily available information on the financial aspects of living out of home. Which the off-campus students replicated in their advice to save well before leaving home.

Overall, both groups find different forms of stresses and pleasures in their living arrangement. There can be no definitive conclusion on which living arrangement is better, or which one students feel is an ultimately better option, as each individual must assess their situation on a case-by-case basis, more research is needed to further discuss this issue.

 

Bibliography                                           

Andrews, B. and Wilding, J. (2004). The relation of depression and anxiety to life-stress and achievement in students. British Journal of Psychology, [online] 95(4), pp.509-521. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/0007126042369802/abstract [Accessed 17 May 2016].

Bennett, R. (2003). Determinants of Undergraduate Student Drop Out Rates in a University Business Studies Department. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(2), pp.123-141.

Brightknowledge.org. (2016). Should you stay or go? — Brightside. [online] Available at: https://www.brightknowledge.org/knowledge-bank/independent-living/starting-university/should-you-stay-or-go [Accessed 16 May 2016].

de Klerk, N. (2014). Free-Time Management amongst Generation Y Students. MJSS.

Hillman, N. (2015). Why do students study so far from home?. [online] Times Higher Education (THE). Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/why-do-students-study-so-far-from-home [Accessed 16 May 2016].

Horin, A. (2011). Balance the key for uni students who work. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/balance-the-key-for-uni-students-who-work-20110111-19ms9.html [Accessed 17 May 2016].

Lim, V. and Teo, T. (1997). Sex, money and financial hardship: An empirical study of attitudes towards money among undergraduates in Singapore. Journal of Economic Psychology, 18(4), pp.369-386.

Newman, G. (2015). Student accommodation: Moving out vs living with parents • UNI101. [online] UNI101. Available at: http://uni101.com.au/living-with-parents-vs-living-at-home/ [Accessed 17 May 2016].

Payment rates for Youth Allowance – Australian Government Department of Human Services. (2016). Humanservices.gov.au. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/payment-rates-youth-allowance

Pepe, K. and Bozkurt, I. (2010). Free time spending ways of university students, and the benefits they gained through these activities. Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education & Sport/Sci;2010, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p253.

Sydney University Business. (2016). Helpsheet Study Guide. [online] Available at: http://sydney.edu.au/business/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/90349/Study_Guide.pdf [Accessed 17 May 2016].

The Student Room. (2013). Should I Live At Home or in Halls? FAQ & Chat Megathread. [online] Available at: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2405506 [Accessed 16 May 2016].

The University of Sydney. (2016). Living costs. [online] Available at: http://sydney.edu.au/study/finances-fees-costs/living-costs.html [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].

Whirlpool. (2016). Uni students. How many hours do you work. [online] Available at: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1691571 [Accessed 17 May 2016].

 

And Then Candy Rained Down From The Sky

Resistance fighter, daredevil, and POW survivor; Barbara Eustace is not your average retiree.

 

It’s not every day that a war is declared on your way home, but for Barbara Eustace, September 3rd 1939 was the day she lost everything. “They just walked in, Poland was not ready for any kind of war.”

Born in the small Polish town of Mszczonow in 1925, you would never know, looking at the demur little woman, of the horrors that she has endured. However, it is strength and resilience that emanate from Barbara Eustace, who prefers to deem her life as, “…very very complicated.”

Only 14-years-old when Hitler and his army invaded Poland, Barbara had the misfortune to be on a train headed back home from the Polish Capital, Warsaw, when the Germans came to take her away. Only 12kms from her home, Barbara was forced off the train, and into the hands of German soldiers. They exclaimed: “You’re not going anywhere, except to Germany. To work on farms.”

Now in 2016, in her home in Blue Hills Retirement Village, Barbara recites her story amongst the relics of her past; golden plates adorn her walls and colourful pillows litter her lounge. There is no sign of fear in Barbara Eustace’s Australian life; as if her story only happened to the other Barbara, who, scared and alone, was dragged from her mother with the rest of Poland’s young people, and put on a train headed to Germany.

“You know what… I would never do it again what I did then.”

As 14-year-old Barbara sat on that train, crying her eyes out, a German-sympathiser threatened to throw her out the train window if she continued to bawl.

Still sniffling, Barbara sat with fear and her suitcase as the train headed into a tunnel. “He just went *wump* window down, and he said ‘Basia out.’ Without any thinking, or asking any question, I just went and jumped from the window… If any other train would have come at that moment, I would have been killed on the spot.”

Even now, it seems that Barbara cannot believe her own bravery.

“He threw my suitcase out after me.”

It would be this bravery that would sustain Barbara through the hellish years to come.

Yet, to Leone Cordingley, this bravery is a whole new side to her village neighbour, and friend of 13 years, “I’d had no idea what she’d been through…You would never, looking at the package.”

Barbara does not associate herself with bravery or courage, only her hands, constantly roving over one another, pierce the tranquillity of her home. Yet it was this bravery that led Barbara, at 18-years-old in 1944, from the relative safety of her cousin’s farm, to the centre of conflict and danger in Poland: Warsaw.

It was there in the Capital that Barbara Eustace, alone and barely an adult, discovered the Polish Resistance. Today the 90-year-old flippantly disregards the gravity or danger of the choice of her 18-year-old self. “So I went there, and I said that I would like to join the Resistance and of course I was very welcome.” Barbara met the people of the Polish Resistance “…here and there and on the quiet…” to discuss the current military situation, and the clandestine actions of its members. For Barbara, her membership meant working in Warsaw Hospital; quietly taking care of those resistance fighters that were injured in minor clashes with the German soldiers.

Until the Warsaw Uprising.

On the 1st August 1944, the repressed citizens of Warsaw staged a rebellion against their German captors. Armed with almost no guns, the men of Warsaw attacked any and all German military men they could find; taking their weapons in the process.

“Warsaw was one hell on Earth.” Barbara’s hands stop their movement as she forcefully spits out these words. Her eyes hot with the anger and fear resounding over the 70 years of peace. For Barbara, the uprising meant picking men off the street, and carrying them to the hospital for treatment. It was hard, backbreaking work, and fraught with danger.

“I was a little bit damaged, my hands and so.”

This is how Barbara describes being hit by the shrapnel of overhead Allied planes. Amongst the bombings, shootings and deaths, Barbara’s own hands seem to be of little consequence. Although the physical scars of her ‘damage’ are long faded, the emotional trauma of the 60 days of hell named the Warsaw Uprising is still visible in Barbara.

Her hands wave about amongst the bronze Polish artworks and pristine furniture of her home; the only traces of the rebel fighter locked in a box in her bedroom.

20160530_125805
Barbara Eustace, 90-years-old, with her medals for participation in the Warsaw Resistance and Uprising.

Barbara’s medals of merit and valour collide the 18-year-old with the decades older version. “I earned them.” She says, her chin sticking up as if ready to prove that the resistance fighter is still there, sitting in the same chair as the old woman. That relentless spirit enabled Barbara to fight through the massacre of Warsaw. “Fighting and fighting, and the bombs were dropping. It was one real hell.”

And it would be all for nothing.

After 60 days of war, Barbara Eustace, despite her daring escape from captivity four years ago, was finally forced to Germany, to the Bremen prisoner of war camp.

Barbara’s eyes are distant as she recalls her time in the POW camp. The Australian landscape paintings and grinning family portraits that decorate her walls do not reflect the anguish she faced to have the life she now leads.

For months, Barbara and 2,500 other Polish girls toiled in the surrounding fields from daybreak to four o’clock. But it was not the nightmare that many feared it would be, and the backbreaking work was often lightened by the kindness of strangers, and of the German guards themselves.

“We were lucky, we were mostly treated quite well.”

The German camp soldiers, left with the guard duty only befitting those who could no longer fight, took pity on the girls in their care, who wanted to be there as little as they did themselves. This pity took form in sandwiches surreptitiously handed over in the fields, or in the allowance of contraband given to the girls by the free farmers who also tended the crops.

Barbara’s hands tap nervously against her dining room table as she recalls one incident where the kindness of the guards did not extend itself.

One girl, her name escaping Barbara 70 years into the future, returned to the camp the same as any other girl that day; with food from one of the farmers in her pocket. Yet it spiked the ire of the most vicious guard at the Bremen POW camp, and truly, as Barbara recalls it, the only ‘nasty’ one there. The girl was shoved to the ground by the guard and beaten until every last crumb had fallen out of her clothing, and then some.

Barbara stills for a moment in her story. “She never took food again, even though we all did.”

As the end of the war drew ever nearer, unbeknownst to Barbara and ‘her girls’, 19-year-old Barbara continued to toil in the fields, finally fearing that she would never see the outside of her prison. She had been in the camp for seven months, it had been two years since she had seen her family.

And then the plane came.

“One day a plane came very close, flew over our camp, we thought it was the Germans going to shoot [us] but then, there was one hat… that a Polish airmen had tied up, with chocolates in it, and a note that said: don’t worry girls, we are coming.’

The years shed from Barbara’s face as her eyes light up with the hope that 19-year-old Barbara once felt. A smile dances at the corner of her stern and lined mouth; as if she is that young woman again, finally seeing the window of freedom so long denied her.

It is this moment that Barbara has treasured throughout her long years of struggle and heartache, the moment that candy rained down from the sky.

“That was the best thing that could happen.”

Two weeks later, Barbara Eustace; daredevil, resistance fighter, and prisoner of war, was free.

Today Barbara’s life is a lot more peaceful, with travels to her hairdresser, and much less clandestine meetings in the Blue Hills Village members’ hall. Her husband has passed and her son lives in Queensland, but Barbara makes the most of the days given to her. The fight has never left her, or diminished her hope for the future. As Leone Cordingley puts it, “She’s very brave, strong, resilient…and maintains her joy in living.”

This joy is replicated in the bright decorations of Barbara’s home; in the plates from her European travels and the paintings from her house in the Blue Mountains, and most importantly, sitting in the centre of her living room table, a bowl of candy that is never left empty.

 

 

Sound Profile: Espresso Warriors

When faced with the question of how I would differentiate each UOW coffee house from each other, I must admit I was stumped.

Yet, when I walked into Espresso Warriors today, I was hit with the overpowering wave of conversation emanating from its inhabitants.

That, plus the fairly terrifying playlist of 2004 pop songs.

But it is the loud conversation, created by the people who are mostly talking to others, rather than sitting on their phones alone, that truly defines Espresso Warriors.

Sound Profile: Tom McGill

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Question: What is home to you?

For Tom McGill, home is the sound of Youtube videos constantly playing. I took a fair amount of liberty with this interview, as I forgot to ask Tom exactly what Youtube videos he likes to watch. But I know that the aspiring film maker (Youtube channel TomTheJester) is passionate about the Australian film industry.

Films clips from:

Interstellar

Wolf Creek

Australia (Review)

Batman Vs Superman (Review by Tom)

(Also Souncloud is sucking with copyright)

Sound Profile: Cassie Norris

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Question: What is home to you?

For Cassie Norris, home is laughing and dancing in the kitchen.

The second I recorded Cassie saying this, my mind filled with images of warmth, playfulness and yummy food. Trying to convey this mentality that Cassie associates with her home was a struggle, since I most definitely wanted to do it the justice that it, and Cassie deserved.

My playing ABBA’s Dancing Queen with this piece, besides the obvious relation to dancing, was because in my own home this is the song that we most often dance to. I feel like this, at least for me, conveyed the best part of home.

Sound Profile: Panizzi Cafe

This is a new chapter in my digital artefact; creating more of a sound ‘journey’ of a place, rather than a person. This created a whole lot of new problems, and experiences.

Recording sound for this profile was easy, but putting it together, with the already over-lapping sounds was more difficult than the previous human profiles.

However it allowed for me to control the direction and tone of the profile, which I used to my advantage to create the feeling of being at Panizzi’s. My favourite part of this being the focus on the coffee creation sounds, and that blissful moment of a coffee’s first sip.