I got an e-mail from Washington University. It was sent to everybody who put a petition in the lowest-priority round. (I was at the ACM finals during the petitions, so I couldn't submit mine except for administrative round. Some thanks for representing the college...) They've run out of on-campus housing.
But there's Good News! They're opening up a new housing unit, half the cost of an on-campus double and four times the size- a fully furnished apartment, with Internet, cable, and part of a meal plan included. It's only a mile from campus, and they run shuttles every half hour from 7:30a to 2:00a. One mile is well within bike tolerance.
It's just not in the best neighborhood, y'see. But that's okay! They'll have armed security guards on all night as soon as the sun goes down, CCTV cameras covering the hallways and outside at all times, a locked parking lot, and several emergency phones aorund. So that means it's just a minor detail that it's in the Loop, where four students got mugged last year as is typical of the crime rate.
If I accept, I get a kick-ass brand-new apartment at huge personal danger to myself. If I decline, they up the price, take away the free Internet, cable, parking permit (not going to do me any good), and food, then will probably put me there anyway. Freshmen always live on-campus, so since they don't have enough housing, it's upperclassmen who get put in off-campus housing. Or they might not put me there, but they'll put me five miles away with no transportation in a room the size of a closet. Because I'm not enough of a partygoer to have been able to get a suite together, I get shafted. They're having to reassign people who got in Round 2- that means people in the Administrative Round have no chance.
Should I take the offer?
My supervisor at Microsoft suggested another option: take part-time classes at University of Washington (not Washington University), then transfer the credit back and graduate at Washington University... while holding down a job at Microsoft the entire time. Oh, and Microsoft has a program for that, where they pay for your tuition. They even help negotiate with your college to make sure you can graduate.
But then, I wouldn't get to have that last year with my St. Louis friends, nor would I get to take the one remaining class (Artificial Intelligence) that really interested me (I'm signed up for it next year), nor would I get my Psychology minor. Also, my mother strongly dislikes the idea, but that's an argument in its favor. This option means I would not return to St. Louis at the end of the summer, assuming Microsoft is interested in me- Venkata brought it up as something "that is certain if [I] keep doing as well as [I am] but [he] cannot guarantee it obviously"- which is, all things considered, probably a perk.
I don't like the idea of living in such a dangerous neighborhood. But if I return to Washington University, I may have no other option (living with my parents is not a workable option). I don't want to just disappear on the people who hoped I'd come back...