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While Boston College plans to eventually offer four years of residential housing for its students, most undergraduates now are guaranteed three years of on-campus housing. With many spending their junior year living off campus, the University has put policies and practices in place to help students find a place to live during their third year.

The Division of Student Affairs offers a range of resources that can not only help students navigate the crowded, high-priced Boston housing market but also help them make the most of their year of living off campus.

The Office of Residential Life is the go-to source for information and assistance. Marianne Carrabba, the assistant director for off-campus housing, contacts students and their parents by mail the summer after freshman year. “We like to start sending them information in their sophomore year so they know what to expect,” she said. The office runs housing fairs, where students can speak with rental agents, make arrangements to see apartments, and even meet prospective roommates. And it advises students on the city’s health, housing, safety, and sanitary code requirements.

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High rental prices in the area near the University make group living desirable, if not essential, and Residential Life is prepared to help students who don’t yet have roommates. Carrabba leads “special information sessions on how to get into a group and find a place,” and the office has a roommate database that helps students connect with potential roommates.

The Office of the Dean of Students is another valuable resource. “Residential Life gets you to the point of move-in, and we support you until you move out,” said Kristen O’Driscoll, assistant dean for off-campus student life. O’Driscoll said her office functions a little like a resident assistant or resident director, helping off-campus students deal with landlords, answering their questions about safety, and connecting them with resources provided by the City of Boston.

Once students have found a place, the dean’s office sponsors Eagle Ambassadors, a student leadership program that helps keep them involved in both campus and community life. “We want to make students realize they don’t have to be disconnected if they live off campus,” O’Driscoll said. To that end, the office holds several events for off-campus students only, including the Taste of Off-Campus, where vendors and restaurants from around the neighborhood give out free food and information, and the Breakfast Club, a group of students who patrol Brighton and pick up trash on Sunday mornings after Boston College football games.

When it comes to renting an apartment and living off campus, both Carrabba and O’Driscoll stressed that it is important that students are informed about the expectations, rights, and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Carrabba said that over the years, she has observed students feeling pressure to sign leases earlier and earlier, and that can lead to rushed decisions.

“We recommend students go out and look at apartments to get an idea of what’s out there,” she said. “And don’t put down a deposit unless it’s the apartment you want.”

by Tim Czerwienski