Living on or off campus can drastically change your college experience. How can you decide which is best for you?
Take a few moments to figure out your needs and what has been most important to your academic success so far. Then, using the information below, decide what makes the most sense for you based on your individual preferences.
Living on-campus definitely has its benefits. You get to live among your fellow students and making it to class on time is as simple as walking across campus. Yet, there are downsides as well and while it may be the perfect living situation for many students, it may not be right for you.
The Pros of Living On-Campus
- A stronger sense of community because you are surrounded by other students. Faculty and support staff are also around should you need them.
- It is easier to make connections with people in your housing environment. You're all students, so you have at least one thing in common right away.
- You're physically closer to campus than an off-campus apartment. Many students don't even need a car while they're at school because everything they need is right there. A shorter commute time is a big perk because all you have to do is walk to another building on campus. No traffic jams, no parking tickets, and none of the hassles of public transportation.
- Campuses usually have things going on 24 hours a day, so there is very little chance that you'll be bored.
The Cons of Living On-Campus
- The room and board costs can sometimes be higher than living off-campus. Meal plans, dorm expenses, and other costs can quickly add up.
- You're constantly surrounded only by students. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you'll have to make an effort to get off campus to enjoy the broader community.
- You may feel like you can never "get away." Living and studying in the same area can increase your boredom or make you feel cramped if you don't find ways to get off campus.
- You have to share your bathroom and space with many, many people. Dorm life is not a solitary one and for some people who are more private or introverted, this can become an issue.
- You are more likely to be required to have a roommate. It is very rare that you will not have to share a room and get along with your roommate while living in the dorms.
Finding an apartment off campus can be liberating. It gives you a break from the college life but it also comes with more responsibilities and, possibly, extra cost. It's very important to take everything into consideration before renting an apartment.
The Pros of Living Off-Campus
- You may not need (or be required to have) a roommate. However, sharing expenses with a trusted friend can cut costs and possibly get you a nicer or more conveniently-located living space.
- You may have more space. Even a one-room efficiency apartment has more room than the average dorm and this is a very nice perk.
- The set-up may better support your life and work outside of school. If you have a family or an off-campus job, an off-campus apartment may make life easier.
- You don't have to worry about your apartment building closing during the summer or other school breaks. You can also hold onto the apartment through the summer, even if you go home, as long as you pay the rent.
- If you do need a roommate, you can pick someone other than another college student. This definitely increases your chances of finding a great roommate.
- You don't have strict rules over your head. Dorms come with rules and RAs who oversee students. If you're living on your own, you don't have to worry about that.
The Cons of Living Off-Campus
- A longer commute is required unless your apartment is right next to campus. Many apartments dedicated to students can be found in close proximity, though these often come at a higher cost because of the convenience.
- Parking on campus may be an issue (and costly). You may need to consider your public transportation options to see if this reduces your costs.
- You may feel disconnected from campus life. Try to avoid this by attending events, games, and other campus activities so you don't feel out of the loop.
- Costs may be higher. You must remember to consider utilities, parking, and commute costs when figuring out your budget.
- An apartment complex may not be as flexible to student needs. If your loan check is late, will they give you extra time to pay the rent? It's not always possible, so it's best to know beforehand or have an emergency fund available.