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Should I live on campus or off campus?

Lots of pros and cons to both, I just want to hear peoples personal experiences and which they liked better. #college


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Austin’s Answer

Hi Katelyn,

Really great question. Housing is an important part of the college experience and by no means is it an easy one to make. There are pros and cons of living both on campus and off campus, but sometimes you may not have a choice. For my university, all students had to live on campus in college dorms for the first two years, after than we were then allowed to move off campus if we wanted to. Living on campus is nice as you are in a environment surrounded by your peers. Making friends, studying, meeting people, and your overall social life is easily facilitated by living with your fellow students. Living on campus is a really big aspect of the college experience and I would try and spend at least one year living in a dorm. I became good friends with the people who lived on my floor freshman year and they are my best friends to this day (it's been five years since I met them). That withstanding, there are definitely some drawbacks of living on campus as well. You do not have a ton of privacy in a dorm, you are going to have to share a bathroom most likely as well as share your room, the quality of dorms isn't great, and dorms can get easily loud and messy.


Off campus similar also has its benefits and drawbacks. Off campus allows you more freedom as you do not have the rules and restrictions that a dorms imposes, you can choose your roommates, you can find high quality housing, and you are more independent. Off campus housing is also more expensive than on campus housing and it may be less social than a dorm because you won't be surrounded by fellow students.


In short, I would try to live both on and off campus. They are both good experiences to have and you don't have to pick one over the other. You have four years (8 semesters) to live somewhere and you have many different choices.


I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!!


Best,

Austin


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Julia’s Answer

Hi Katelyn, 


I had the opportunity to live both on and off campus, so I'll give you my personal opinion on both of those experiences. 


On-campus: 

My university did not require students to dorm, but I chose to do live in a dorm my first two years. My first year I shared a room, in a 10-person apartment-style dorm (5 rooms, 2 people per room). The second year I had my own room in a 4-person apartment-style dorm (4 rooms, 1 person per room). We shared a common area and bathrooms. My dorm was in one of the newer buildings, and although the finishes were nice, the space was extremely small. The quarterly cost was around $3,600 dollars, which is equivalent to roughly $1440 per month. To put that into context- you are paying $1440 per month to share a tiny room, which is equal to or more than a one-bedroom apartment in the same area. That cost doesn't include a meal plan, which was also expensive. I had the lowest cost meal plan, and at the end of the quarter I ended up buying random food at the campus stores/restaurants just to get rid of it (there's no refund for unused funds). Lastly, at least during your first year, you can’t pick a roommate. I had a horrible roommate experience, and I feel that it negatively affected my college experience that year. 


Off-campus:

During my final two years I found a house with two of my friends. It was a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath townhouse. It wasn't as "modern" as the dorm, but it was huge, and we each paid significantly less than we did in the dorms (almost half as much!). Plus, as mentioned in other comments, we didn’t have to worry about the rules that came with living in the dorm. Off-campus housing is very common in my area. Apartments are expensive, but houses and townhomes are actually quite affordable. Some people even use online platforms to find roommates that are students, regardless of the fact that they don’t know each other personally. I gave this same advice to my sister her freshman year, and she found a room in a huge 8 bedroom house with a great group of students, paying less than $500 to rent her room. Many landlords in the university area will allow 9 month leases, since they know students aren't in school for a whole 12 months. Alternatively, it is really easy to find someone to sublease your room over the summer if your landlord doesn't allow a short term lease. Lastly, living off campus didn't feel as secluded as I thought it did. My entire neighborhood was made up of students living in off-campus housing- for context, I was about a 15 minute walk from campus. I didn’t miss out on the social aspect of living on-campus at all, and made friends with most of my neighbors. 


Summary:

My university was in an urban area, very close to downtown. Therefore, both on and off campus housing were pricey- BUT, if you compare what you get for on-campus vs. off-campus housing in that area, off-campus housing was the best bang for your buck. This is of course going to be university/city specific. I would spend some time doing research on your campus policies, prices, and the rental market in the area. Take your time figuring out what makes the most sense for your particular situation.  


I hope my response (while long) was helpful to you. 


Good luck on your search!


Julia recommends the following next steps:

Research university housing policies
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Compare dorm room prices (including rent, meal plans)
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Compare rental prices (including rent, utilities, wifi, etc.)
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Seek advice from a campus advisor, your family or friends, others who've gone to college, to get different perspectives on this choice. Career Village was a smart first step!
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Ken’s Answer

College itself presents many demands related to classes, studying, and management of time, which is very different than the structured life that you might have experienced in high school while living at home and having your parents or other responsible people tending to the many activities and expenses of maintaining a household and the proper operation of everything in your house. When you live off campus you are involved in at least a 12 month lease and are responsible for all of that on a year round basis. If you live on campus, many of those housekeeping and maintenance issues that you had others deal with are handled by a maintenance crew and others on campus and you are only obligated to be concerned about your on campus residence during the time that you are on campus for classes. Also, when on campus, you have the opportunity of participating in a meal plan whereby someone other than you will be doing the shopping and meal preparation. Also, security is a very important issue. When living on campus, you have the campus security system, which provides regular patrols for the campus, provides individualized safety services, such as escorts, and is generally is very responsive to problems that occur.. When off campus, you have the municipal police, which may or may not be as comprehensive.


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