Transfer students frustrated by difficulty finding housing

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 4:07pm

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Design by Lauren Kuzee

With the official signing date for Sept. 1 leases looming, many students on campus are searching for places to live. But the housing hunt looks different for transfer students at the University of Michigan.

According to University Housing, 97 percent of first-year students choose to live on-campus for their first year. But transfer students are not guaranteed on-campus housing upon admission to the University due to the limited number of rooms and space available for students. Some living communities — such as the Transfer Year Experience Theme Community at Northwood III apartments — are reserved exclusively for transfer students.

In an email to The Daily, Amir Baghdadchi, senior associate director of University Housing Administration, explained what housing options are available to transfer students.

“As soon as a transfer student takes care of their official enrollment, that automatically generates an invitation to apply for Housing,” Baghdachi wrote. “Once you've filled that out and are in the system, you can check out the website over a period to check out what we have. Our inventory changes over spring and summer, so we typically invite transfer students to continually check from mid-March through mid-August, to see what's new.”

When LSA senior Michael Koch’s transfer application to the University was accepted in February 2017, he received a link to an online web portal to apply for on-campus housing. Though Koch wanted to live on-campus, he was unable to find space on Central Campus and opted to live in University Towers instead.  

“I checked (the website) every day from February to maybe June, and the only housing was available on North Campus,” Koch said. “But I had friends who went here and they said, ‘Whatever you do, do not live on North Campus if you’re in LSA.’”

LSA senior Megan Quayle transferred to Michigan as a sophomore and also wanted to live in on-campus housing on Central Campus. She said after she searched for a place to live, she ultimately decided on an off-campus apartment complex.

“In general, it just felt like we got kind of thrown into housing because the University doesn’t guarantee any housing for transfer students, so you kind of need to figure out where you can fit into housing somewhere, whether that be on-campus if there are openings or off-campus and try to navigate that,” Quayle said. 

In addition to the housing opportunities disparity, Quayle said her orientation experience differed greatly from regularly admitted students. According to Quayle, orientation for transfer students occurs on a single day in July or August, partly because they had previously attended an institution of higher education. Their orientation focused on becoming accustomed to the University and registering for classes, but Quayle felt that some assistance or information on determining housing also would have been useful before attending orientation.

“It was kind of too late in the game to talk about housing, but I wish there had been something else before (orientation),” Quayle said.

LSA senior Skylar Carlson transferred to the University with her sister in the fall of 2018. She initially wanted to find a place to live off-campus, but because she was accepted in the late spring of 2018, she said she found it difficult to find an available space in her price range. 

“It was kind of overwhelming and kind of frustrating,” Carlson said. “Everything in Ann Arbor is just super expensive, and it was my first time moving out and living on my own, so I guess it was hard to find resources to actually find somewhere to live.”

Since her sister was in the College of Engineering, the two ultimately decided to live at Northwood III on North Campus.

“I feel like Northwood is kind of the only option, but the downfall is that it is on North Campus, and that’s not ideal for anyone who’s not an Engineering student,” Carlson added.

Baghdadchi wrote in his email that transfer students are given the freedom to pick the kind of housing that works for them. 

“For all students across campus, space in residence halls and apartments is limited, so we don't guarantee a room will be available,” Baghdadchi said. “‘Transfer students really have different needs based on where they are in their academic careers, and the kind of experience they are looking for. So in our process, transfer students can browse online and select for themselves from what's available.”

Koch commented on how students find a place to live for the following year during the fall of the previous year, wishing there was more transparency about that to transfer students. 

“I think it’s very unusual that (in) Michigan and Ann Arbor in general, everybody knows where they’re living by mid-October,” Koch said. “So when you’re accepted as a transfer student in February, you’re already months behind the game, and that expectation wasn’t made clear by the University. At the same time, they don’t control when people get houses, like it’s not their job to regulate the off-campus housing market to make sure that transfer students can find a place.”