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“Why can’t you just stay in the dorms like everyone else?”

When I first told my mother I was considering moving off- campus this year, she was in denial. I’d spent my first two years at Penn in the College House System, and as far as she was concerned, there was no reason for that to change when I became a junior.

At the time, I was one of the Daily Pennsylvanian’s crime reporters. My mom, being the loving, attentive parent she is, read every one of my stories — meaning every time shots were fired in West Philly or every time a crime was committed anywhere in the Penn Patrol Zone, she knew about it.

As a result, she grudgingly said she’d let me move to Hamilton Court — but only if I signed a “contract” with her stating that every night I walked home from the DP office in the wee hours of the morning, I’d get a walking escort.

In retrospect, my mom told me recently, the “contract” idea was a bit of an overreaction. But parents’ concerns with students moving off-campus are legitimate, and it’s important to consider them — and help alleviate them — when thinking about moving off campus.

I called my mom and asked her, one year later, why she went from wanting a “safety contract” with me to happily helping me move my belongings into my new apartment.

She said it was because she'd realized all the positive things about the situation — I didn't need to store my stuff every summer or lug it back home to California; I could choose my apartment, rather than being assigned housing; I could paint and decorate my room to make it my own. Also, she'd been on campus and had a chance to see the building before — a fact she said made her feel better about letting me sign the lease.

In short, it wasn’t easy to convince my mom that the front door lock in HamCo is just as safe as the PennCard swipe machines and Allied Barton guards present in my previous residences.

But understanding where she was coming from, and clearly explaining the reasons why it was important to me, made all the difference.

See more articles in our off-campus guide here or return to the Housing Guide home page

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