The University’s New Student Services division launched a website this month to provide students with resources they might need for off-campus living, such as roommate agreement templates and budgeting worksheets.
Paige Muehlenkamp, the off campus and outreach coordinator, was tasked with working on this website in September. She said she used the students’ input for this initiative.
“We had an idea of what sort of resources students would need, but they’re the experts in what they need,” Muehlenkamp said.
Muehlenkamp collected student responses from social media and focus groups to help her figure out what students needed. She also used this data to prioritize the information appearing on the website.
Muehlenkamp said she hopes the guide will lessen the burdens students face with living off campus. It includes maps listing the attributes of residential areas where students tend to live as well as an apartment pros and cons template students can use as they search for off-campus housing.
“I think it’s an exciting time, and I hope they stay excited,” Muehlenkamp said. “It’s meant to guide them so that maybe they avoid some difficulties down the road."
A special committee contributed to the website’s content and included people from Student Activities, University Housing and Dining, Texas Parents, and Sorority and Fraternity Life. Muehlenkamp said University Communications also helped with the website.
Melissa Porch, New Student Services communications manager, also assisted with proofreading the website. She said the University wanted to finish the website in time for the incoming class.
More than 86% of students live off campus, according to a recent UT report. Porch said the University had previously thought about providing students with resources for off-campus living.
“The reason we wanted to launch at least phase one this early in is because we’ve got our incoming freshman students who are already looking at housing options,” Porch said. “So we wanted to have something out there for them to use as a resource.”
English senior Alexandra Villegas said the website is a good idea, but she has some suggestions for improvement.
“(The website is) very helpful, actually,” Villegas said. “Also, I think it would be very helpful to have people comment on the places that they live and the places that they’re recommending.”
Muehlenkamp said the University would like to continue to improve the site.
“This is just phase one of where we want this to be,” Muehlenkamp said.