Deciding whether to live on or off-campus can be a tough choice to make, especially for first-year students who are just finding their footing. While some colleges stipulate that first-year students enrolled in a four-year degree program must spend their first year living on campus, unbeknownst to first-year students, there are exceptions to this rule.
With wiggle room and loopholes in the picture, the decision is yours to make. Now that the ball is in your court, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of living off-campus vs. living on campus. While choosing your major and selecting this semester’s courses may be decisions that take precedence over your living arrangements, don’t make the mistake of being flippant when it comes to the on-campus vs. off-campus tug-of-war.
The pros of living on campus
Distance from class
If you’re attending in-person classes and you live on campus, then you’ll always be within walking distance of your 8 am classes. As a result, you won’t feel the stress of commuting and making it to class on time, and you can ditch commuter expenses (i.e., bus fare, fuel costs, etc.) altogether.
Your peers are always present when you live on campus. You’ll share a dorm or a suite, or you will at least always be near one another, enabling you to keep loneliness at bay. Besides the benefit of endless social opportunities, you’ll also be able to build a network of other students in your industry–fellow professionals that can potentially help you land a job post-graduation.
College campuses heavily emphasize the importance of safety, and they do an excellent job of enforcing it as well, whether via door attendants or check-ins for guests. Security guards can often be seen patrolling the campus. Should you decide to live off-campus, security measures will likely pale in comparison to on-campus offerings.
The cons of living on campus
Nine times out of ten, living on campus is more expensive than living off-campus–which has everything to do with the fact that you’re paying for convenience, amenities, and costs a university needs covered to operate.
Between cramped living spaces, shared bedrooms, and mailrooms pre-screening your mail beforehand, finding privacy on campus can be difficult. Fortunately, there are ways you can maximize privacy during your time on-campus.
- Boost privacy by agreeing on which possessions are shared and which are personal.
- Get out of the dorm room when you can to give one another space and privacy.
- Invest a virtual address so that you can manage your mail without a third party, like a mailroom attendant, screening your packages and letters.
The Pros of Living Off-campus
When you decide to live off-campus, you have the option of more spacious living accommodations. You can live alone or with a roommate and choose how much space you need to be comfortable.
When living off-campus, you won’t have to spend the bulk of your four-year education in the company of a roommate less than 10 feet away. You’ll be able to enjoy the privacy you crave, as you can lock your doors, retrieve your mail, live alone, and retain the autonomy to go and come as you please. You also have full control over who is visiting and when, which can’t be said about communal dorm living.
The cons of living off-campus
Proximity to school
Sometimes, you might not be able to control how far away you live from campus. The costlier apartments are close to campus, so if you want to save money, you may have to live further away and commute by public transportation if you’re going to spend less on gas. However, the tradeoff for affordable living is that you may miss out on opportunities to socialize.
You have bills to pay and a social life to upkeep, which may require you a part-time job for funding purposes. On-campus, all of your utilities are included in the cost of tuition, even though it may make tuition more expensive. By contrast, in an off-campus living situation, you’ll have to buy food and set up your own utilities. For most, this added responsibility is not ideal.
In the end, there is no right or wrong choice, so much as it is what benefits your situation. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of both living conditions and determine which one makes the most sense socially, financially, and academically.
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