Is Living On Campus the Right Choice For You?

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 Should you live on-campus in a dorm or off-campus in an apartment or house? Making that choice depends on a number of factors.

young woman moving into dorm

 If you are receiving financial aid, you'll be given a set amount for room and board. Depending on where you go to college, off campus housing can be more or less costly than dorm living. For example, big cities like Boston, New York and Los Angeles tend to be quite expensive, with one bedroom apartments starting at $2000 and up in prime locations. Before you decide to share a place with a couple of roommates, look carefully at the total cost, including housing, food, transportation to and from school and other bills like water and power. 

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Is It Your Freshman Year?

freshman orientation

Freshman year in college is filled with new and challenging experiences that can make even the most confident and self-reliant young adults feel overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. Living in a dorm gives freshmen the chance to acclimate to school without having to worry about their basic needs like housing and meals. Take the easy way the first year, and then you can decide as a sophomore whether you are ready to live in an apartment or not. You may find that dorm life suits you and you want to continue to take advantage of the benefits dorms offer.

college freshmen

Finding your people in college takes a lot of effort and persistence. It's not always easy to connect with others in transient places like the dining hall or classrooms. The people you meet in your dorm are most likely going to be the people who become your good friends - at least for a while. You may not click with your roommate, but you may really like the people who live a few doors down from you. If you're not naturally extroverted or friendly, you may have to push yourself to reach out to others, which is much easier to do when you see people on a daily basis.  

Young man living alone

 There are people who simply cannot live in a dorm because they don't feel comfortable in a communal living situation. Some are very private, others are highly focused on their schoolwork and don't thrive in a noisy and busy environment. If you know for sure that you are one of these people, there's nothing wrong with finding off campus housing that you will like more than a dorm. If you want to live in a dorm but don't want to have a roommate, there are often dorms with single rooms - though getting those as a freshman can be difficult. Check with the housing office at your chosen university for more information.

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Transportation - Getting to and From Campus

college student on bicycle

After freshman year, if you opt to live off-campus, make sure you understand the transportation available to you to get to and from school. Often, students who live off-campus have a car, not just to commute to school but for doing errands like grocery shopping. Another thing to consider when choosing to live off campus is your schedule - it's best to have your classes close together, time wise, so that you don't have to go back and forth too much.  

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Living with Multiple Roommates

college roommates women

 Off-campus housing often involves living with 3-4 people in close quarters. Unlike the dorm, where you can escape your room and visit a friend in their room to take a break from your roommate, There aren't many places to go in a small apartment or house to get away from housemates. Think carefully about who you choose to live with and how you will divide the responsibilities of the house, such as cleaning, bill paying and so on. Someone who makes a terrific friend may not be the best choice for a roommate.

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Becoming a Part of Your School

college students laughing

 Especially for first year students, it's important to feel connected and part of your school on both small (classroom) and large (campus) levels. It can be tempting to go to class and then go home if you are living off campus, whereas living on campus encourages - even forces - you to become part of the college community. Whether it's doing laundry in the dorm laundry room, eating in the communal dining area, sipping coffee at the on campus coffee shop or studying in the library, spending your days on campus instead of off campus will slowly but surely bring you into the college fold.