Opinion: Should college students own pets?

Animals have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural Iowa, I have had many cats, two dogs, two lambs, two very short lived fish, and one horse with an attitude. When I first went off to college, saying goodbye to my dog was one of the hardest things I had to do. That being said, I know I could not take care of an animal while I attended college.

While many college students would like to own a pet, I believe that most students should not own one.
For many students, this is the first time in their lives that they have complete freedom to make their own decisions. Between choosing which apartment building to sign your soul away to and debating over whether to buy the name brand or generic cereal at the grocery store — college students are faced with many serious decisions.

Perhaps the most serious is whether to bring a furry friend along with them into this new chapter of their life.
Animals require a lot of care and attention and the hectic life of a college student may not allow room for this      to happen.

Students have to be honest with themselves to figure out if they have the time to properly care for an animal. Between school, work, studying, and social life are there really enough hours in the day to squeeze more into the to-do list?

While animals can help students relieve some stress from school, they could easily cross the line and become stressors themselves if students try to take on too much. If you keep a busy schedule, adding a pet into the mix would not be the wisest choice.

Another big deterrent from owning a pet while in college is the financial cost. At the very minimum, students have to dedicate a portion of their budget on food for their pet.

Realistically, pet owners also have to pay for additional items (depending on the type of pet) such as a collar, bedding, food and water bowls and toys. In addition, most apartment buildings will raise the price of rent per month by around $50 if you own one pet. Students also have to be prepared for unexpected expenses like a visit to the vet or medications that can easily cost hundreds of dollars.

Students with pets also have to figure out what to do if they want to spend the weekend at a friend’s house or have to go out of town for a couple of days. They have to make arrangements for someone to watch their pet for them while they are away from home.

College students should think about all the factors that go into owning a pet before making a decision on whether having one is right for them. I would suggest to a student just entering college to hold off on getting an animal until they have adjusted to life as a college student.

But if you absolutely cannot live without a little companion, I would recommend getting an animal that does not need a lot of attention or have expensive needs. If you put in the time and money, owning a pet can bring so much happiness into your life.

Or, if you are like me, you could look into getting a lovely houseplant instead.

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