Win $250 in textbooks! Enter now >

The Benefits of College Pets: Why You Should Have One (and What to Do if You Can't)

in   •  
College Pets - Deciding Whether to Have a Dog in CollegeI am lucky enough to attend a college that lets students have pets on campus. I have friends who have dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and even a baby sugar glider on campus. College pets are great companions. It's so nice to have something to come "home" to after class. I'm pretty sure that even my goldfish is happy to see me when I get back to my dorm room.

They can also help make the transition away from home much more manageable. It's like bringing a family member with you.

Pets are a great source of stress relief, as well. Who isn't relaxed by an afternoon romp with your dog? They are also a good way to make friends and break the ice. I've made many friends just by asking them if I could pet their dog.

There are some negatives to having college pets, though. All animals need care, even my goldfish. Dogs need to be fed, exercised, and socialized multiple times a day. At times, my friends have to leave dinner early to walk their dogs. For them, having a companion is worth the sacrifice. But you should seriously think about the commitment you are making by having a pet in college.

Think about your pet, as well. Is he suited to cramped dorm life? When you leave for school breaks, will he handle the travel well? Will he be safe at your college? There is a lot to consider.

If, like me, you decide that you're not ready to commit to having college pets, don't worry! There are a lot of ways to spend time with animals in college. Most schools have a community service coordinator. Ask him or her about local volunteer opportunities involving animals. My school has a partnership with a service dog organization, and students regularly visit to help out (and play with the endless cycles of puppies). You can also offer your pet-sitting services. Your pet-owning friend might enjoy an afternoon off, and the animal will benefit by having someone to hang out with.

Having a college pet can be a lot of fun. If you can get the details worked out, it is sure to be a wonderful experience. If you can't have your own pet, though, just make friends with someone who has one! You'll get your puppy (or kitty, or goldfish) fix, minus the vet bills and stress.

Photo credit: Flickr/Matteo Paciotti