Living On-Campus vs. Off-Campus
There’s a lot to consider if you’re planning to attend college or university away from home. One of your biggest decisions might be whether to live on-campus or off-campus. Since there are pros and cons to both, it can be a tough choice, especially if this is your first year away from home. Financially, socially and in many other ways, your decision will ultimately impact your entire college experience. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider before deciding on a location to call home.
On-Campus Pros and Cons
Atmosphere: Living on-campus helps to foster a strong sense of camaraderie with other students in the college community and it keeps your focus on college-related activities. You might say it provides you with the ‘quintessential college experience’.
Social Life: It’s easy to meet new people and make connections when you have so many neighbours. Campuses are alive with various extracurricular activities, sometimes going on 24 hours a day. Sororities and fraternities can keep your social calendar full.
Accessibility: It goes without saying that living on-campus is convenient. Proximity to classrooms, libraries, computer labs, etc. means more time to sleep in or study, and less chance of being late. You’ll save time by not having to commute, and a short walk to class is good exercise.
Save Money: By living on-campus, you’ll save money on gas, transit, and parking. Room and board may include buffet style dining, saving you from eating out or buying groceries.
Financial Costs- Depending on the campus, room and board may cost more than living off-campus, even when you figure in the savings on travel, etc.
Social Overload: If you’re an introvert, on-campus living may be challenging for you because of being constantly surrounded by people. You might feel like you can’t get away from the commotion or buzz of social interaction.
Privacy: Living in a residence hall means sacrificing privacy, at least to some extent. Likely you’ll have your own bedroom, but bathrooms and common spaces usually have to be shared. Having a roommate may not work for you if you are someone who requires peace and quiet to study and relax.
Space Constraints: Most dorms are small with little storage space; if you add a roomate, the space dwindles yet further. This means you’ll have to downsize and be considerate of crowding out your roommate. Hoarders, you’ve been warned!
Distractions: Because on-campus living is very social, it may be hard to focus on your studies, or to prioritize to get coursework done. The temptation to have a good time instead of completing an assignment or studying for a test may cause your grades to suffer.
Off-Campus Pros and Cons
Living-space Options: Living off-campus gives you greater choice when it comes to apartment size and location. If you’re planning to set up home with all its comforts, you’ll need more bedroom, storage, and living space. In some locations, you’ll be able to choose between lofts, studios, or flats, if money is no object or if you’re planning to share the costs with a roommate. If you’re looking to be extra frugal, you can opt for a basement apartment or rent a room. You can also choose to live in an area of town that appeals to you, such as near attractions or amenities that offer convenience or entertainment.
Flexibility: While resident halls close during summers or breaks, living in your own apartment means you won’t have to worry about clearing out once or twice a year. You can stay put year round if you choose, or sublet if possible for the months you’ll be back home.
Solitude: With your own space, you can decide if you want or need a roommate. If you’re an independent person who enjoys your own space, a bachelor apartment might be a perfect fit for you. If you do decide to share an apartment, you can choose a roommate other than another college student, such as a sibbling or friend.
Independence: On-campus living usually requires following certain rules and standards of the college you’re attending. Although these rules are intended to provide safety for the residents, you may want greater freedom and independence now that you’ve moved out on your own. If you’re looking to gain a sense of responsibility, see how fast you’ll ‘grow up’ by paying the bills, doing the shopping and cooking, and cleaning your apartment while going to school! If you just fainted, off-campus living might not be for you.
Lifestyle Fit: If you have family obligations or dependants, or if you’re planning to keep a job while going to school, living off-campus may be a better fit for your busy life.
Isolation: You might feel disconnected or detached from campus life if you choose to live off-campus simply because you’re not there 24/7. It might also be harder to make friends or to get involved in social activities. If you want to be completely engrossed in the college experience, on-campus living can better help you achieve this.
Financial Costs: In some areas, finding a suitable apartment can mean paying high rent. You’ll also have to add in utility bills, internet costs and commuting costs, not to mention furnishing an apartment.
Travel Time: Spaces close to your school will probably be at a premium, so likely you’ll have to look a little further away which will result in a longer commute and less time to study and socialize. Traveling, either by car or transit, in a crowded environment can cause frustration and stress.
After you’ve weighed both pros and cons of on-campus and off-campus living, make a choice and go with it. Don’t second-guess yourself or grapple with regrets. Although choosing where to live is a big decision, you can make a success of college or university wherever you call home, as long as you’re prepared for the adventure ahead!