This post was written as a freelancer. It was published to the Dream Row blog on October 10, 2012.
College offers many opportunities, but it also requires many decisions. What classes should you take? Should you get a job or spend the time participating in a club? Is the cafeteria mystery meat worth the risk? But, before the school year starts and the class picking begins, students must sift through all the options and decide where to live.
Pros: Dorms offer the quintessential college experience. You will most likely never again be living with so many people in the same stage of life. The dorms are a great place to meet fellow students, especially for freshmen and new students who may not know anyone. Plus, the convenience and proximity to campus is unmatchable. As a bonus, some schools offer living and learning programs where students share a floor or whole dorm with those in the same or similar majors.
Cons: Most of the common complaints about the dorms are true. They offer limited space and privacy and neighbors and roommates can often make noise at very inconvenient times. Perhaps one of the biggest negatives of the dorms is the cost. Dorms often cost significantly more than surrounding apartments, especially if the school makes you buy an expensive meal plan.
Off Campus Apartments/Houses
Pros: Freedom is arguably the best part of living off-campus. Off-campus properties often have a lot less rules than on-campus housing. They also tend to have more space and, therefore, more privacy. Living off-campus can also give your wallet a break, as off-campus properties tend to cost less and can be split with more roommates.
Cons: Off-campus properties are, as their name suggests, not located on campus. Therefore, getting the motivation to travel to campus for class can sometimes be a challenge, especially on bad weather days. Off-campus properties often require more responsibility. Utilities have to be paid and, in the case of houses, lawns have to be tended to. Students also loose the legal safeguards of campus housing. Instead of dealing with rules set by the school, they are renting from real world landlords with real world consequences.
Pros: Living at home or with a family member is usually the cheapest option for students. Parents and family members rarely charge rent and often help with food and other expenses. Living with people you know can help ease the transition from high school to college. Instead of being thrown in with strangers, students can get all the comforts of home while attending school.
Cons: The comforts of home aren’t always good. Living with relatives can often mean less freedom. You may not be able to come in at 2 a.m. with no questions asked as you would in a dorm or apartment. It can also mean missing out on the classic “college experience” of living with peers, late night study in the library and bonding over the weird RA.