Pros and Cons of Living on and off Campus
Before college students arrive on campus, they have to decide whether to live in an on-campus dorm or an off-campus apartment or house. There are several advantages and disadvantages worth considering for each living arrangement.
One of the best benefits of living on campus is location. Students who live on campus are close to classes. When you live in the college dorms, you can sleep in and still get to class on time because of the short travel time. You’re just a short walk from the cafeteria, student center, library and academic buildings.
Students who live on campus feel like they are part of the community. It is much easier to socialize with fellow students when you live with them in the dorm and attend the same on-campus parties. Not only does having a meal plan mean you don’t have to cook your meals, but you can eat together with your friends.
Dorm rooms also are nicer and better maintained than most off-campus apartments. When something breaks, you don’t have to deal with a landlord to get it fixed. The college has full-time employees to deal with problems.
There are, however, a few tradeoffs to on-campus living. Dorm rooms usually cost more. There’s less privacy, smaller rooms, less freedom and more distractions. You often have to share a dorm room with other students, so you don’t get your own bedroom. You might not have much of a choice about your roommates. You might have to move if you want to stay on campus during the summer, since the dorm may be due for renovations during the summer.
The worst drawback to living in a dorm: shared bathrooms.
A key advantage to living off campus is the lower cost. Even when you include the cost of utilities, insurance and traveling to/from campus, you will save money.
You also get more living space and more privacy in an off-campus apartment. Even if you decide to have roommates to split the cost, each roommate will have his or her own bedroom. You also get to choose your roommates instead of having them assigned to you. An off-campus apartment also is quieter than living in a college dorm.
Living off campus gives you more freedom and independence since you are living in the city. You can cook your own meals or eat out if you wish. There’s more space between you and the campus, giving you the opportunity to unwind and decompress during the commute. You don’t have to move out of your apartment at the end of the school year.
There are, however, a few disadvantages to living off campus.
Commuting to campus can be a hassle. It is not as convenient to go back home between classes, as compared with living in a dormitory. It takes time to commute to and from campus, so you might be less spontaneous. Public transportation could be unreliable or shut down at night. Safety also is a concern. If you have a car, it can be challenging to find a parking space on campus, since parking passes tend to be oversold.
You might feel isolated from the campus when you live off campus. Students who live off-campus tend to have fewer friends and to get out of touch with campus life. You will be less likely to participate in extracurricular activities or stay on campus just to hang out. You lose the on-campus experience, where you learn as much from your peers in informal settings as you do sitting in a classroom.
You will have to do your own grocery shopping and prepare your own meals. You will have to clean your apartment yourself. While you do get to have your own bathroom, you also have to clean your own toilet, unless you hire a cleaning service.
If the furnace breaks or there’s a leak, you have to deal with the landlord. Some landlords are nice, but some are scumbags and slumlords.
If you don’t stay in town during the summer, you will still have to pay the rent. You might need to find someone to sublet your apartment during the summer.