New Website Helps Students Find Off-Campus Housing

Feb 23, 2011 3:02pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Nathan O’Neal blogs: Cassandra Jones lived in a string of off-campus apartments when she was a student at Arizona State University, conducting countless online searches to find a place that fit her taste. Image courtesy of offcampusreportcard.com “I went to 10 different apartment complexes … there were some that just didn’t look anything like they did in the picture,” Jones said. “We went literally from apartment complex to apartment complex to check them.” Websites that advertise for student living can be deceiving, she says. “The online searches can sometimes be your friend but sometime your foe…it can be very deceiving just to look at one picture or a couple pictures,” Jones said. That problem is exactly what two students at ASU were hoping to fix when they created OffCampusReportCard.com, a website that allows students to grade and comment on off-campus housing. Co-creators Larry Lynn and Tyler Hughes are both out-of-state juniors at ASU who had similar experiences to the ones described by Jones when they moved to Arizona and sought an off-campus apartment.  “They’re going to show you the pictures of the pool and the pretty pictures of the bedroom,” Lynn said. “But they’re not going to show you trash on the sidewalk outside or how the security is or if there are loud parties.” “We grade properties on 15 different aspects, plus students can type in a short paragraph on their experience,” he added. “I feel like we give them a more detailed look at the properties from a non-selling standpoint.” Hughes, who is from Boise, Idaho, said their experiences helped them come up with the idea to specifically target college students who need help with housing. “I didn’t know where to live. I was unsure of what place would be beneficial to help me achieve academically and make some friends and socialize,” he said. The website was originally launched in October and intended for ASU students, but it quickly expanded to other schools including the University of Arizona, the University of North Carolina at Greensborough, the University of Maryland and Towson University. The idea had national roots from the start but is looking to expand to other schools across the nation within the next two weeks, culminating in the launch of a new website. The new site they will be launching will serve more than 100 schools. “We are currently working on adding some Texas schools and California schools, but the new site will have schools all over the east coast, Midwest, upper northwest…we’ll be all over,” Lynn said. Expansion also means they’ll be seeking campus representatives to promote their website at various schools. “We just want it to be a nationwide resource,” Lynn said. “We want it to be in every state and in every major university.” As for Cassandra Jones, she says she only wished a website like this existed when she was hunting for housing. "I think it would've been more helpful to have a website to help direct me and narrow down my search," Jones said. "Maybe it could've saved me a few headaches along the way."

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