Trying to decide whether to live in an on-campus dorm or rent a place nearby? This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when going away to school. Sometimes, the school will cover a student’s on-campus housing costs, in which case the decision makes itself. In any other case, though, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Here are some points you should consider.
Pro: Accessibility. While it’s definitely possible to get a nearby place that’s in walking distance of the campus or otherwise really convenient, you’re 100% guaranteed to be near all your college classes if you live on-campus. You can visit the library, cafeteria, and sports complexes at your leisure. Most importantly, you won’t have to worry about parking.
Con: Privacy. It’s important to remember that while living on campus, you may have to make some compromises in terms of privacy. Many dorms require that you share a room, though it is possible to get a single. It’s also not uncommon for you to have to share a bathroom and common area with an entire floor. If you’re the type of person who needs his or her own bathroom or constant peace and quiet, you may want to consider living off campus.
Pro: Social life. Of course, if you’ve already got friends nearby, living off-campus won’t be an issue when it comes to being social. However, when living on-campus, you’ll be in walking distance of many other students’ dorms or apartments, meaning there will often be get-togethers nearby or people playing volleyball in the quad. There are many events for on-campus students to attend to make friends. You also won’t have to worry about how you’ll get to and from parties, since you can walk or take the campus transportation.
Con: Space. Small living quarters are, for many students, just part of the college experience. You probably won’t have as much storage space as you did at home and you definitely won’t have room for tons of furniture. If you’re living on-campus, don’t expect to sprawl out on a sectional couch or have a walk-in closet.
Pro: Money. Since your “rent” is rolled up with your tuition when you’re living on campus, that’s not something you’ll have to worry about every month. On-campus students also get the benefit of opting in to a meal plan, so when they can’t afford groceries or don’t feel like cooking, they can just go to the dining hall and swipe a card. There are often flex dollars that allow you to grab some groceries at an on-campus convenient store and you can stock up on extras at the buffet-style dining hall.
Con: Noise. You can always choose to rent an apartment in a complex that’s quiet or gears toward an older crowd. But when you live on-campus, you’re living with a crowd of young, energetic students who will likely be noisy a lot of the time. If this affects your studying, you might see it as a con (but some people just like to join in on the fun).
Pro: Convenience. You rarely have to drive (if you choose to bring a car at all) because everything you need is on campus. Never deal with traffic, never deal with public transportation.