Roving Teen Reporter: Student Housing Gap

At the beginning of the year, an Instagram account was created by my school called “TPHS 2024 decisions” highlighting the university choices and other pathways of the school’s seniors. Since the release of Early Action and Early Decision results a few weeks ago, the posts have rolled in continuously. Unquestionably, there is a wide plethora of factors that go into selecting one’s college – academics, location, athletics, expense, demographics and more. A more novel issue, however, has pervaded the minds of many high school students debating their future school choice — the availability and cost of housing.


The country is currently swept up in a major housing crisis – one that grips thousands upon thousands of college towns and therefore affects the 18.9 million (Education Data Initiative) 18 to 22 year olds who attend an American university.


Unfortunately with the state of the situation, choosing one’s college based on the institution that fosters intellectual curiosity within, is a luxury instead of a given. These systemic gaps have forced students to become inordinately pragmatic, and burdened our hopes and dreams for a stable future.


California is no stranger to these issues. In fact, a housing crisis is rampant within the state’s three largest college systems: University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges. Across these schools, an estimated 417,000 students lack stable housing, which amounts to 5% of undergrads at the UCs, 10% at the CSUs, and 20% at the CCCs as of spring semester 2023, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. The predicament extends beyond just a plain lack of sufficient housing on-campus and in the surrounding areas of these schools to support the exponentially growing mass of students attending California public colleges. While this acute problem has been lessened by continuous funding funneled into housing development projects (any San Diegan can’t help but notice the never-ending construction occurring on UCSD’s campus), little has been done to curb the exorbitant prices of such housing.


Housing costs take an immense toll on college students, many of whom are already struggling under suffocating student debt. To make ends meet, students must take on multiple jobs while also maintaining their studies, a pipeline to deteriorating mental health.


For us high school students who are about to embark on this journey ourselves, we are looking upon this problem with immense anxiety, afraid of discovering ourselves amidst the nightmare in the next few years. We want to be assured that when we select our college, we will have a place to get shelter and a bed to sleep on. Is that too much to ask?