[dropcap style=”simple”]W[/dropcap]hen thinking about adults who still live with their parents, a specific stereotype often comes to mind: the lazy slob who spends his days sleeping around in the basement and binging on pizza and Chinese takeout. He has no set deadlines, priorities or direction in life. Perhaps this is because members of American society have felt the urgency to go out and chase the cliched American dream for generations, that is, until this one.
For the first time since the Great Depression, staying with a parent is the most common living arrangement for young adults in America, with 32 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds remaining at home, according to a 2016 study conducted by Pew Research.This is no surprise when looking at the struggles, such as housing and automobiles, many millennials experience with trying to obtain the necessities of a middle-class lifestyle.
According to an article from The Atlantic, more than one in five young adults postponed getting married and/or having children because of financial limitations, and more than one third of 25 to 29-year-olds had to move back in with their parents for the same reason.
Although the concept of not moving out after high school or even college is just now becoming somewhat common in the United States, it has been the norm in other countries for multiple generations. Senior Priyanka Patel said she doesn’t want to follow in her parents’ footsteps and have an arranged marriage or go from living in their home directly to her future spouse’s home, as is the custom for many Indian families. Avoiding that lifestyle is difficult, however, considering her parents’ strict attitude.
“I’m going to Mizzou, and my parents don’t really want me to leave the house. They want me to stay at home because they don’t want me to be influenced by the culture here,” Patel said. “There’s a huge generation gap [between my parents and I], and we just think differently. I don’t like the mindset of being under my parents’ [authority]. I want to be more independent and take care of myself.”
Bryan Sappington, the director of residential life at Columbia College, said living on campus is extremely beneficial, especially for international students who may be timid when it comes to embracing a new culture. While Patel is not an international student, she is worried about missing out on certain opportunities when it comes to living the American way.
“There are times when I have to pair [international] students from the same country together as roommates, and I almost always get asked if they can change rooms to have an American roommate. Also, we have a community called the Global Village, which is dedicated to exploring and embracing different cultures,” Sappington said. “Both international and domestic students live on one floor in one of our residence halls and have a faculty member who meets with them once a week to cover related topics. The students in this community love it.”
At some colleges, such as Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., living on campus during freshman year is a requirement and temporarily prevents conflicts over living arrangements, director of residence life John Gardner said. He encourages living on campus because it helps students maintain good grades, social lives and activity involvement.[quote]“There [is] sometimes that conflict [between parents and students],” Gardner said. “We encourage all students to stay on campus, as it benefits their academic success and progress. However, it is not up to us to resolve that issue. A student and family must make that decision for themselves.”[/quote]
For countries east of the United States, living with one’s parents past adolescence is not as big of a stressor; according to an article by the Japan Times, nearly 50 percent of all single Japanese adults aged 20 to 34 live with their parents, comparable to nearly half of all European young adults who still reside in their childhood homes, as reported by Pew Research. Even though the West is approaching those statistics, senior Kaelyn Kovarik believes it’ll be more difficult for people to integrate themselves into American society if they don’t experience it on their own early on. For this reason, she is grateful that her parents are not letting her live at home during college.
“Obviously if I go away I’ll be living in a dorm at whatever campus I’m on, but if I go to Mizzou my parents said I’m definitely not allowed to live at home. I don’t want to, but they wouldn’t let me anyway,” Kovarik said. “They just want me to be independent, and they think that the way to meet new people in college is to live in the dorms and have the full experience. I need to learn how to live on my own so they don’t have to take care of me for the rest of my life.”
Patel wishes her parents would adopt a similar mindset, as she believes college is the ideal time to learn responsibility and self-accountability. She worries about missing out on opportunities to learn how to manage future obligations, such as paying bills and doing taxes, especially if they become issues that interfere with her future career. Even though she listens to and respects her parents, she resents the fact that she’ll be missing out on the chance to live in a dorm next year.
“It kind of pisses me off that my parents are making me stay at home, but they are paying for my college [tuition], so I can’t really do anything about it,” Patel said. “I’m planning on going to medical school, so they originally wanted me to stay home for all eight years of college. I told them I’d deal with it for the next four years, but for med school I’m definitely leaving.”
Where do you plan to live while in college? Let us know in the comments below.