Do not let housing bully you into signing a lease too early

Off-campus housing is notorious for pressuring students into signing leases, but don’t be fooled

It's October, which means that you're getting bombarded by email after email about signing an off-campus lease for your sophomore year. The Hills Harrisonburg, Aspen Heights, Copper Beech, Rocktown Reality, Sunchase…they are all fighting for your attention and force you into signing leases too early. It happened to me when I was a freshman, and it's probably happening to you too.

But I am here to say don't let JMU housing groups bully you!

It will often feel like you're running out of time, like if you don't sign a lease today you'll be homeless come next year. But you're a lot better off than housing groups like Sunchase Apartments want you to believe.

Housing groups obviously cater to students, but their only interest is filling up their spots.

This Sunchase tweet, for example, makes it seem like it's an anomaly that they would still have housing, but it's not. They just want you to think it's an anomaly so you feel pressured into signing a lease.

The truth is, there are so many housing opportunities around Harrisonburg that it's INCREDIBLY unlikely you'll be without housing next year — yes, even if you wait a couple months to sign a lease.

The only deadline you really have to pay attention to is the deadline to live on-campus for your sophomore year.

JMU is strict on their deadline, but if you are going off campus, take your time. Make sure you really know the people you are going to live with and figure out what location is best for you.

Don't be pressured into signing a lease before you're ready. This is your freshman year — you've known the people around you for barely a month, and therefore cannot make a fully informed decision on who to live with next year. Take it from me. I've lived with the same girls going on three years now. The people you choose can stick…don't get stuck to someone you hate.

So what can you do? Utilize the resources around you.

Go to the housing fair (even though it's insanely early), because sometimes they give you information on how to waive certain fees for that certain housing developments. It's too early to sign a lease, but you can still save some money and get some free stuff.

Talk to upperclassmen about the best places to live and which landlords are the worst. Facebook groups and Reddit are a great place to start if you're just looking for advice.

Finally, we pay a fortune to go here, so let's make the money and time worth it. Use the off-campus housing office to help with your decision, and you'll find that they will agree with me about how ridiculous the pressure to commit is.

Stay cool, dukes, and don't let housing corporations bully you.

James Madison University