Graduating high school is an exciting time, but also a stressful one. By graduation day, most students have already selected and enrolled in the University of their choice, but that is just the hardest decision, not the last. Next comes the selection of classes and any extra curricular activities, not to mention deciding where to live. The last choice might seem simple to many, but others find the choice between on campus and off campus student housing to be anything but easy. This overview of the two housing options for students will hopefully help the confounded decide which option suits their needs best.
Countless movies offer incoming college freshman an image of dorm life which can be both accurate and fanciful. Whether you find the life depicted in these films appealing or not, they do not provide enough information to make an informed choice. Some of the benefits of living on campus include:
- Convenience: No matter how close apartments for students are to the campus, it is nearly impossible for them to match the convenience of the dorm. On most University campuses, students in the dorm have access to everything they need on campus grounds or just across the street, plus they are within walking distance of their classes.
- Community: With hundreds of other students around you, there are always opportunities for new social connections. Official community events often center around the dorm as well, with many institutions preferring to utilize their on-campus housing as the focus point of the school’s social calendar. This means that students in the dorm often find out what is happening around the campus before their counterparts in off campus student housing.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to dorm life, too. Examples include:
- Little Privacy: While all the people in a dorm are great for social interaction, they do not just disappear when you want alone time. Most dorms make a roommate mandatory, although there are exceptions, and many dorms include a bathroom shared with another room’s occupants.
- Limited Space: The lack of privacy is primarily due to the tight quarters in most dorms. Even the most luxurious examples are little more than a large bedroom, resulting in a constrained environment. In other words, pack light.
- Roommates and Rules: In the dorm, roommates and rules have one very important element in common: you do not choose them. Like living with your parents, living in the dorm might be easier, but it comes at the price of control. You do not choose who lives with you or what is and is not allowed.
Off campus student housing options vary widely in quality and cost. The areas around Universities often include student rental units that are aimed at the college-age individual both in price and amenities. Like dorm living, there are positives to living off campus, like:
- Freedom: From the ability to pick your roommate and the location where you live, to the freedom to come and go as you please and have guests when you want, off campus student housing offers more freedom than dorms can match.
- No Summertime Moves: The end of the spring semester brings more than grades and a break from the rigors of class, it brings the closure of college and university dorms across the country. Off campus student housing is dependent on payment alone. If you pay rent, you can stay as long as you like.
Of course, along with those positives come the accompanying negatives to living in a rental away from school, such as:
- Juggling Responsibilities: Living off campus requires more responsibility, but professors do not give a homework break for those who make the choice. It is up to the student to successfully balance the requirements of school and work with whatever social life they manage to stay in school and off the street.
- Commuting: Depending on the city where you live and your distance from the school, the daily commute to school, plus the one to work, is no small matter.
Where to live during your college years is a matter for consideration. Whether you elect to live on campus or off, make sure you select the one that is best for your needs, not what you think you are supposed to do. After all, your college years are about finding yourself.