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Two residents of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Fletcher Hall might inspire people to ponder whether college students really are getting younger every year.

Isabella, 4, and Chloe Sylvia, 6 months, are the hall’s youngest residents.

The daughters of residence hall director Abigail Sylvia, the girls certainly live in a different environment than a typical family. Raising children in a residence hall has its challenges, but as Abigail explains, it also provides unique benefits for a family seeking to expand their children’s horizons.

What made you consider living in a residence hall despite having children?

We had our first baby, Isabella, in 2005. I really liked my job and wanted to keep working, so we thought we would give “living in” with kids a try. It worked so well that we decided to give it a try with two kids.

What are some of the challenges you face as a family living in a nontraditional environment?

On occasion, students can be loud, and that can disrupt the little ones’ naps. We’ve been able to address this by placing signs on the kids’ bedroom doors and by making it a point to introduce the kids to our upstairs neighbors when we can. People are generally respectful of the kids’ need to sleep during the day. In turn, we try to quiet our children down as quickly as possible when they wake up at night.

We have had some issues with our oldest picking up some of the language choices of the college students. Again, people have been pretty respectful, and they try to “keep it clean” when the kids are around.

While the kids have a large outdoor space to play in, they don’t have a yard where they can have a swing set or are able to leave their toys out. Outdoor time can be challenging, but we make it work. We enjoy having a lot of green space that the girls can run around in.

What are some the unique benefits your family experiences living in a residence hall?

I think that there are a lot more benefits than challenges! Our kids are very social, more so than I think they would be if we didn’t “live in.” Because my oldest has been surrounded by adults since birth, she has a very good vocabulary! And because she has a constant audience, she has a great sense of humor, too.

We also dine regularly at Blackhawk Commons. This has provided us with the opportunity to expose the kids to lots of different types of food at an early age.

We get to live in an environment with a variety of people. Our children will have grown up with people of different ethnicities, sexual orientation and abilities.

As a family, I think a unique benefit is that we leave less of a carbon footprint than most families by living on campus. My husband drives to work, but I walk to work, and my kids and I walk to school since they attend school at the UWO Children’s Learning and Care Center. Sometimes, I realize that it’s been a week since I have left campus because there are so many conveniences on campus.

And, of course, I have to mention that the plethora of babysitters is a huge benefit! We are very rarely at a loss for people to call to watch our kids.

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