Living On or Off Campus: Making the Choice

on January 3, 2014

Living on your college campus can be a vastly different experience than off-campus housing. Both bring their own set of positives and negatives, so making the choice is really a matter of deciding what elements are most important to you.

In making the choice, it’s best to be honest with yourself about your habits and what type of atmosphere would be most conducive to academic success. After all, even though you want the opportunity for relaxation and entertainment, college does require some solid study time.

So, take a good look at the pros and cons of each option before making your choice:

• Pro on-campus – Living on campus gives you easy access to classes and to campus activities, and thus can give you a better sense of being a part of the college community. Meeting new people with similar interests is easier. You won’t have to worry about traffic or parking. And the college will have packaged all your expenses into a single bill.

• Con on-campus – Room and board can be higher than an off-campus arrangement. And there is a feeling of never being able to get away from it all, particularly because it can seem you are always in the midst of a crowd of fellow students. Most colleges require that you have a roommate and share bathroom facilities.

• Pro off-campus – You may not have to have a roommate, so you could have more space and not have to share a bathroom. The location might be better suited to your non-college life, such as your job commute or proximity to family. The apartment complex won’t close for summer vacation or other holidays. And if you do decide to have a roommate, it doesn’t have to be someone from college. Rules on this and visitation in general will be much more lax than in the dorm.

• Con off-campus – You’ll need to commute and perhaps pay for parking when you can find it. These added costs, including gas and car maintenance, will need to be added into your computations. You may not feel as connected to the college experience. The apartment management may not be geared to understanding student needs, including late student loan checks.

Other pros and cons will depend on the type of apartment you seek out. Some are the equivalent of off-campus dorms and are arranged to cater to the student population rather than the general public. So, contact with school activities and related entertainment may not be much of an issue.

The choice of on- or off-campus living is a personal one not to be made lightly. Be sure to look at the decision from all sides so as not to make a mistake that could affect your academic success.


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