Should I Live On or Off Campus?
Where you live naturally makes a huge difference to your college experience. Think carefully about what you want from your time at college, and what environment helps you thrive both academically and socially. There's no simple answer that works for everyone, and there are ups and downs no matter where you go. Hopefully, this guide will give help you make the decision that best fits your individual wants and needs.
Living On Campus
On the Plus Side: There's just no substitute for dorm life. In the residence hall, it's much easier to meet new people, and cultivate a sense of community with your fellow students. Also, residence halls often put on fun social activities and parties which can be a real blast. In fact, residence halls and college campuses often have events and activities going on 24 hours a day. Living on campus, you'll be close to where the action is, and close to your classes.
On the Down Side: In the dorms, you'll be hard-pressed to ever find a moment to yourself. You'll probably have a very small room, and in most cases you'll be required to have a roommate. Those parties and activities may seem fun at first, but they may be quite a bother when you just need some quiet study time. Also, bathrooms are usually shared by the residents of an entire floor. Many people find this constant contact with people overwhelming. On top of that, room and board costs, in many cases, are more than the cost of living off campus.
Living Off Campus
On the Plus Side: Living off campus, you'll have much more control over your living space, and who you share it with. You'll probably have more space, and you won't necessarily be required to have a roommate. If you do need a roommate, you get to choose who it is; it doesn't have to be another college student. Also, if you have a family or job off-campus, living away from the school may be a better set-up to support your lifestyle. Plus, unlike students in the dorms, you won't need to worry about your building shutting down and closing during the summer months.
On the Down Side: Your commute to class will be much longer living off-campus, and it may be more difficult for you to connect with other members of the college community. Depending on where you choose to live, your costs may be higher than a dorm room (when you factor in all the utilities, deposits, etc.). Also, commercial apartment complexes will not be as helpful or flexible when it comes to accommodating student-specific needs, like a late loan check.
There is no perfect place to live, free of challenges or downsides, but there are places better suited to your personality than others. Think carefully about the lifestyle you want, where you'll be able to do your best academic work, and how much you want to be around other people. Then, just weigh out the pros and cons and listen to your gut! Good luck!