It’s time to leave the nest as you move away from home for the first time to enroll in college. It can be a difficult transition leaving family and friends behind. But, what about Fido or fluffy, the cat, that has been your constant companion since childhood? It has never occurred to me that taking a pet along with you to college would be feasible or even allowed on campus. After some research on the subject, I found that there are schools that offer flexible policies regarding pets.
While bringing a pet from home can ease the transition to college life, there are many other advantages to housing a pet, says Wendy Toth, editor of pet resource site Petside.com. “A lot of students take in a lot of different factors when deciding where they want to go to school, but I know a lot of them worry about the feeling of fitting in,” Toth says. “A huge advantage is that pets provide social support.”
Before you pack your pet’s toys, treats and bed, ask yourself, can I provide the same care, stimulation and companionship that the pet would get a home? Keep in mind that any interruption of your pet’s normal routine can cause stress on the animal. If Fido has a spacious yard to run and play and a human to take him on walks three to four times a day back home, then Fido may need to stay put, and you may want to opt for taking along a tropical fish. However, if you have caged animals such as hamsters or guinea pigs, as long as you bring their cage with them, they will probably adapt just fine. As for cats, well, … Cats, with their extraordinary intelligence and exemplary communication skills, you can just ask them if they would like to tag along.
Campus regulations vary in colleges regarding size limits and type of pet.
According to U.S. News and World Report, these are the top 10 colleges and universities, listed in alphabetical order, with pet-friendly campus policies:
1. Case Western Reserve University: The Cleveland-based university approves of small, caged animals, such as bunnies or hamsters. Students in Greek life can even apply for a house “mascot,” such as a cat or dog, to live in fraternity and sorority homes.
2. Eckerd College: Students at this Florida school are permitted to have cats and dogs under 40 pounds, as well as fish and snakes, in three student complexes. Dogs are a frequent sight on campus and have even been spotted at graduation ceremonies, notes Sullivan, dean of admission and financial aid at Eckerd. “A couple of years ago, we had one young lady whose dog actually walked across stage with her at commencement.”
3. Lehigh University: Although students are only permitted to have 10-gallon fish tanks in the residence halls on this Pennsylvania campus, students that live in a fraternity or sorority home are allowed to have one dog or cat per house.
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: There are four cat-friendly dormitories on campus for students who can’t leave home without their favorite feline. Students are limited to one cat in the residence halls and must contain them to cat-friendly areas.
5. Principia College: The Illinois institution allows pets that can be kept in cages or aquariums, such as fish, birds, snakes, lizards, and more.
6. Stephens College: Searcy Hall—or Pet Central, as students call it—on this Missouri campus allows for a variety of pets, ranging from dogs and cats to lizards and birds. In this complex, there is not a weight limit for animals, and there is even Doggie Daycare—for times when students aren’t around to care for their pets.
7. Stetson University: This Florida campus reserves one complex—Nemec Hall—for students with pets. The residence hall is open to dogs weighing less than 30 pounds, cats, hamsters, gerbils, and more. There is also a dog park on campus that allows dogs—and students—to socialize and interact with one another.
8. Sweet Briar College: While some schools allow cats and dogs, this Virginia college permits students to bring their horses from home. “You have to be part of [the Sweet Briar Riding Program] to bring your horse, but if you [are], your personal horse can be boarded right there with you,” says Petside.com’s Toth.
9. University of Notre Dame: While the Indiana school does not allow dogs or cats in the residence halls, it grants permission for students to house non-carnivorous, freshwater fish in aquariums, as long as the tank does not exceed 30 gallons.
10. Washington and Jefferson College: Monroe Hall, or the “Pet House,” as it is known on this Pennsylvania campus, permits cats, dogs that weigh less than 40 pounds, small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, turtles, and fish. The college allows only one pet per room, so the school advises students to discuss the living situation with their potential roommates before applying for housing.
Note: Verify campus pet guidelines with the above colleges as policies may have changed.
Wendy Toth, Editor, www.Petside.com
Ryan Lytle, U.S. News & World Report