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How do I Decide if I Should Live on or off Campus?

Diana Bocco
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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With college it comes a series of decisions: what university is best for you, which major you want, what subjects to take, and where to live. While you may not think about this at first, choosing a place to live is an important decision that will have to live with for the next four years. If you don't know what you want, here is a quick overview of your options and the pros and cons of both.

Living on campus is a popular option. Sharing a dorm with other students will give you the full college experience: 3AM pizza dinners in a packed room, full participation in college life, and close contact with friends. Living on campus is the best choice if you're studying full time and have very short breaks between classes. If you need to use the college library frequently or need to carry around a lot of books or materials, living on campus will certainly make things easier for you. If there is no public transportation around, living on campus may be your only choice.

On the other hand, on-campus living is expensive. Depending on the college, it may be up to three times more expensive to live on campus than to rent a place in the city. It can also be less comfortable and lacking in privacy.

Living off campus is usually cheaper than taking a place in a college dorm. It allows the freedom of living your own life without having to worry about curfews and noisy roommates, and the distractions of normal college life. On the negative side, you may have a hard time finding a landlord willing to rent a place to a group of out-of-state college students.

You will probably need to provide your own furniture, although finding second-hand things to furnish a small apartment is usually not a problem, as students leave a lot of things behind once they finish college and move on. Safety is also an important issue. Campuses usually have their own security 24/7, which means you probably don't have to worry about walking around after sunset if you live on campus. If you live off campus, however, you're on your own.

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Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By oasis11 — On Apr 18, 2011

@Moldova - You do make a good point, but I think that the best case for living in on campus housing has to be the sense of community. When you live on campus you feel that you are more connected to the school and therefore will probably participate in more school functions and get more out of the school experience than a commuter would.

I always wished that I had lived on campus, but I didn’t. I commuted to school every day and often wondered what I missed out on by doing that.

Also, if you live on campus you could probably find a job on campus that will offset the cost of your education or give you some spending money and since you already live on campus it could not be anymore convenient.

By Moldova — On Apr 16, 2011

@Icecream17 - I agree with the fact that campus safety is an important issue. I just have to say that I can also see how living in campus housing might make a student more complacent with regards to their personal safety and as a result might be more susceptible to problems.

For example, if someone lives in campus housing, they might go to a party and drink too much because they live on campus and make themselves vulnerable to all sorts of problems.

If they live off campus they cannot let themselves get that carried away because they have to go to their off campus apartment. Also, someone that lives off campus is very aware of the precautions that they have to take but someone living on campus might have a false sense of security because they think that they will always be protected.

By icecream17 — On Apr 14, 2011

I know that some universities require that their out of area freshman students live on campus the first year. This is really for safety reasons. Since many of the students would be unfamiliar with their surroundings many schools require their entering student body to live on campus so that they can get used to the area.

I think that this is a great idea because with on campus housing you know that the student is relatively safe because schools usually offer twenty four hour security.

The only problem I can see with the campus housing is if the person that you room with is difficult to get along with or happens to get sick. Since the space is so small, it may make for an uncomfortable living arrangement.

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
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