One of the great things about Purdue is the amazing opportunities it is able to offer students. Many are obvious, like the quality of classes/professors, the career center, or the athletics. Others are ones that students sometimes stumble upon or hear about through the grapevine. While every ambassador will gladly tell you about NRES and how much we all enjoy the academic side of Purdue, a key part of what shapes your college career are the other things you become involved in. For me, a major factor has been cooperative living.
Cooperative houses are a branch of fraternity, sorority, and cooperative living (FSCL). There is a total of 11 houses, 7 women’s and 4 men’s. Cooperatives share a lot of the same values that fraternities and sororities have, like scholarship, philanthropy, and sisterhood/brotherhood. The key difference is that each cooperative house is independently owned and run, so it is unique to Purdue’s campus. We as students (with a little help from an adviser and alumni) run the house and take care of it. This means that there are constant opportunities to hold leadership positions. We also share the responsibilities of cooking and cleaning, which make us the most affordable housing on campus. I pay about $3,200 per year, which includes rent, utilities, food, and all other expenses.
I heard about coops from some family members who participated when they were students at Purdue. At first, I didn’t really consider going through recruitment because I wasn’t very interested in sororities and figured that it would be the same. My mom pushed me to consider going through recruitment more, mostly because of the financial aspect since I am responsible for putting my self through college. I went through recruitment the January of my senior year and ended up falling in love with the house Ann Tweedale. Getting into AT was actually what helped me make the final decision of where I would go to college.
Now, I am getting ready to go into my fourth year in the house next year. Some of my favorite things about my house are the friends I have made. I live with 39 other girls and cannot imagine how different my college experience would have been if I hadn’t met them. Additionally, because the cooperative system is fairly small (we make up about 2% of Purdue), the entire community is close-knit. We frequently do things like dinners, philanthropy events, or various social events together. There is never a day on campus where I walk to or from classes without passing someone I know in the coop system.
Another one of the things I appreciate most about coops is the leadership opportunities I have gotten. In Ann Tweedale, I have been able to serve on the executive board as health and safety officer. I have also held various positions like assistant treasurer, philanthropy chair, and served on standards board. I also got to serve on the Purdue Cooperative Council as the Executive Director of Public Relations. All of these positions have helped me gain skills that can be applied to my future career, like budgeting, effective marketing, time management, etc.
Cooperative houses are often referred to as the “hidden gem of Purdue”. I will forever be thankful that I found out about them and was able to join because the experiences I have gained in AT are what truly elevated my college experience. Some of my best advise to any incoming or current student would be to step outside of your comfort zone to become involved. You may stumble upon the organization that helps shape your own personal experience at Purdue.