Karol Clouse

Pewaukee, Wisconsin

Waukesha County Technical College

A.A.S. in Web and Software Development

2014 Completion

Karol Clouse is earning an Associate of Applied Science in Web and Software Development from Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. She has been teaching herself HTML coding and computer programming since she was 13. She expects to graduate in 2014.

Karol has lived independently before, but due to financial concerns, she now attends both online and traditional college courses while living at home. Although she appreciated the personal space and independence that living alone afforded her, living at home with her parents allows Karol to save money for her own house.

What are the biggest benefits of attending college at home?

The 2 biggest benefits of living at home while I go to college are the money that I save and the help that my parents give me when it comes to raising my daughter. My parents don’t ask me to pay for rent, which relieves a lot of stress since I don’t have much income while I am going through school. They also take care of my daughter whenever I need a babysitter. That is a huge help, as any parent knows. Their support lets me focus on school without having to handle all of the little problems in life by myself.


What are the drawbacks to attending college at home?

The main drawback to attending college at home is that I have a hard time finding a good place to study. My house is never quiet, because there are 5 people living here including my parents, my daughter, my fiancé and me. There is always a lot of racket when I am trying to study.


How much do you think you save by living at home?

I would estimate that I save about $800 each month since I don’t have to deal with rent and utilities. One way I am using that money is to make car payments. I am also sending my daughter to a private elementary school and saving money for a house, so I have big plans for those savings.


How do you commute to college?

For the classes that I take on-campus, I have a short commute by car. I live in a small town, so it does not require much travel.


How many hours do you spend at college every week?

Only 3 of my 5 classes are on campus, so attending classes takes up to 4 or 5 hours each week. On top of the time I spend in class, I am responsible for completing 10 to 12 hours of homework each week.


Do you think attending college at home affects your learning in any way?

I think that being at home affects my learning positively, because I have been studying online for a long time. I got my high school diploma through online classes, so I am used to this learning format. I find that I am usually able to get ahead of the rest of the class if I am working independently because I can work at my own pace. I don’t have distractions from other people or wasted lecture time.


Do you feel like attending college at home affects your ability to make friends?

No, I don’t think it affects me or my friendships. Since I have a young child, the social aspect of college is not that important to me. I am usually somewhat of a loner, so when I do feel like socializing I go out with people who I already know through work.


Do ever feel isolated from campus life?

I do feel isolated at times because I am only on campus for my night classes, so a lot of the campus activities take place during the day while I am at work. For instance, my school has a technology club for people that are in the IT field and their meetings are always in the middle of my work day. I could never make time for that, even though the club seems like it could be a lot of fun. It does feel like I do miss out on a lot of opportunities.


Is attending college at home what you had imagined it to be?

For the most part, college at home has met my expectations. I am a planner and I tend to think things through before making decisions, so I had a good idea of what to expect from this semester. I admit that online school is a bit more taxing than I thought it would be, but it has a lot of positives since I have my family close to help me balance the load.


How do you think your life would be different if you attended college away from home?

There is no way that I could live on campus with my daughter, but I can imagine that living in an apartment on my own would make my life even more stressful it is currently. On top of everything that I already have to do as a parent, a student and an employee, I would have to take care of all of the cleaning and household chores.

As it is, I have very little free time. In a typical day, we get up and I get my daughter ready for school before I go to work for 8 hours. Then I have about an hour to study before my night class begins. By the time I get home from class, it is 10:00 p.m. and my daughter is asleep. That is when I do my homework for a couple of hours. I get to sleep around midnight, and then wake up to do it all over. If I had to deal with running a house in addition to all that, I am sure that my studies and my mental health would suffer.


If you started college over again, would you choose to live at home while attending college?

Yes, I would absolutely still choose to live at home because it dramatically lessens my financial burden. If I was living on my own, life would be a lot more expensive and I would almost certainly have to take out more student loans to cover rent and childcare.


What advice would you give other students who are trying to decide if attending college at home is right for them?

When it comes to online classes, my advice is to make sure that you are a self-motivator. If you have a hard time getting your homework done when you are in a regular class, it will be even harder to study online because you have to keep yourself organized and on schedule. You will not have anyone to remind you that if you do not do the work on time, you will be dropped from the class.

The other advice I have is that if you plan to live at home, be sure that you can deal with the lack of alone time that comes from having your family around constantly. Finally, I recommend that if you have the opportunity to live in a dorm, take it. I wish I could have experienced that lifestyle for a time.