College is a unique and exciting time in a young person’s life. It gives teenagers and young adults a chance to explore new topics, make new friends, and learn who they really are. For the first time, students can choose what they want their lives to look like. This can be both liberating and daunting at the same time.
One major decision that every prospective student must make is whether or not to live on campus. This decision can have a major impact on their social experience, the cost of tuition, and much more.
Understanding the pros and cons of on-campus and off-campus experiences is extremely important before choosing which one you prefer. This article will offer the positives and negatives of each so you can make an informed decision.
The College Experience: On-Campus vs. Off-Campus
The college experience can (and will!) offer a drastically different experience for each individual. Your living situation, roommate, major, friends, and teachers all strongly impact whether you have a great experience or a forgettable one.
Moreover, the decisions you make early on can set you on a very specific path. With that in mind, understanding where you will live is perhaps the most important question to answer before embarking on your college journey.
The Benefits of Off-Campus Living
While on-campus living is often seen as the most common, thousands of new students commute to college classes every year. Many universities offer commuter assistant programs to support students, effectively making their lives easier.
So, here are a few of the major benefits of off-campus living.
- You have more peace of mind and less chaos. As a student off-campus, you can sleep well knowing that you aren’t subject to many on-campus requirements. Those living on campus must handle random room checks, fire alarms, sudden evacuations, and other inconveniences. When you’re living off-campus, you do not need to abide by the university's housing rules.
- You save a lot of money. On-campus living can be extremely expensive. In fact, most universities charge thousands of dollars each semester to live in a dorm room on campus. Certain on-campus meal plans can also be quite costly.
- You will likely have more space. Dorm rooms at most colleges tend to be quite small. In most cases, off-campus housing offers bigger rooms for less money. Some students even choose to live at home, adding to the financial benefit.
The Downside to Living Off-Campus
While there are clear benefits to off-campus living, there are also some distinct downsides. It’s important to determine if the potential positives outweigh the negatives.
Here are a few reasons to consider on-campus instead.
- Living off-campus means fewer social opportunities. While it is possible to have a lively social experience while living off campus, it may take more effort. Individuals who commute back and forth do not have as much access to late-night festivities and the everyday interactions that on-campus students do.
- Those living off-campus must commute back and forth. If you live very close to the university, off-campus commuting might not be such a big deal. However, even a 30-minute commute can take a toll over time. With this in mind, off-campus living means you must wake up earlier for class to arrive on time. This can be a major downside for young people who prefer to sleep later.
- Living off-campus may mean having more adult responsibilities. While those still living at home may not be subject to this, many people choose to live in an apartment off campus. This means security deposits, dealing with landlords, and more.
The Benefits of On-Campus Living
On-campus living also offers a wide variety of benefits. Here are a few things to consider before making your choice.
- Your friends are just a few steps away. One of the major benefits of living on campus is having access to friends day or night. This creates an opportunity to bond in ways that many off-campus students can’t.
- More time and more sleep. Being able to roll out of bed and go to class can make a student's life much easier. No commuting means no traffic and no unneeded stress.
- You have access to lots of on-campus resources. Individuals who choose to stay on campus can more easily receive counseling, tutoring, and other forms of assistance. This can go a long way toward having a successful educational experience.
The Downsides to On-Campus Living
Some downsides of on-campus living include the following:
- Potentially unwanted roommates. It is common for students to receive a roommate that is not a good fit. This can lead to uncomfortable experiences that can dampen the college experience.
- Uncomfortable living arrangements. Housing at many universities is small and uncomfortable. Some schools also create limitations regarding who you live with (freshmen must live with other freshmen, etc.).
- On-campus housing is often more expensive and offers less. This is one of the most common complaints for on-campus students.
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