Is it Better to Live On-Campus or Off-Campus? The Pros and Cons of Each

Dorm room with stuff inside such as clothes, desk, bag, and bed.

Flickr user rickpilot_2000

To live on-campus… or to stay at home; that is the dilemma. Choosing is often easy, most of us know the answer from the start. But once in a while, it becomes a big decision for incoming freshmen or even for current students who want to revisit their decision—which is completely normal.

In order to make the right decision, you have to think about what is best for your situation, a process that can be long and dreadful. So, here are some considerable insiders to help with that process.

Living off-campus is like being able to disconnect for a while. Some people choose to stay home or elsewhere for many reasons, but here are a few that they may not even realize.

Off-Campus Pros:

Commuter Programs

Living off-campus isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Colleges like the University of Houston offer commuter assistant programs to allow commuters to stay connected and never miss a beat when they’re away. Moreover, commuters still have the choice to pick meal plans thanks to certain commuter meal plan packages.

Avoid Logistical Chaos

When living off-campus, you miss out on all of the fun of fire alarms, evacuations, the move-in process, and random room checks by your RA. Also, some resident halls require students to move out during the winter break, which can be very inconvenient, especially for those who live in other states or who just don’t want to go home for the break. Some of us also have separation anxiety with our belongings. We don’t want to lock those random items that we never use in a room for 5 weeks because…What if we need them!?

But the biggest perk is you SAVE MONEY.

On the flip side, you may end up saving money, but you may spend more time.

Off-Campus Cons:

The Commute

This can take a toll on students, especially if you take morning classes. And even when you think you have made it to school on time you still have to factor in the time it takes to find a parking spot, unless you get a garage pass. This is just a sacrifice you have to make. You will spend more time in your car for every dollar you save, figuratively speaking.

Missed Opportunities

Because your life is not centered on campus, there will be events that go on during the times that you aren’t on campus. Simply put, the likely hood of you capitalizing on every opportunity will decrease because you just won’t be there to catch them all.

On-Campus Pros:

Sleeping In

There are a few things that will automatically be recognizable when you choose to live on-campus, the first being your ability to sleep in longer. For those of us who take morning classes, we know all too well how “five more minutes” of sleep can turn into getting up, dressed, and across campus within 3 minutes. Some of us have mastered this great task, while others are forced to wake up hours early to beat traffic, find parking, and make it to class by 9.

More importantly, on-campus housing can provide more than just a few extra moments of shut-eye.

Housing Resources

Your RA (Resident Advisor/Assistant), Hall Council, Desk Assistants, and so much more support staff, exist to make your college experience easier. Residential Life staff will often host events specifically for residents to enjoy themselves. Res life is there to help facilitate the connections you make through college. They are there to get students engaged, provide a learning environment and foster student success. This is a major benefit for incoming students.

Though, there are some downsides.

On-Campus Cons:

Classification Based Housing

For those of us who like options or want to be in control, this may seem unfair. Some schools house students by classification or by age. Freshmen housing is usually geared towards ensuring their success as a first-year student and may include certain resources within the building that other resident halls do not. With this though, there are sometimes technicalities that would permit some students to be unaffected by this stipulation.

Roommates/Other Residents

The roommate situation can get sticky if there is no keen communication. Roommates can become problematic as well as other residents, but only if not dealt with properly. In order to keep from having roommate issues like cleanliness, noisiness, etc. you need to talk with them and/or your RA to resolve the issue.

Overall Living on campus allows students to be fully submersed into your campus’ culture. You will always know about events and make much easier connections with people and organizations.

The choice to live on- or off-campus ultimately comes down to how much you need to commit to being physically there. Typically freshmen will stay on campus in order to gain as much as possible and as time goes on and you assume more responsibilities, the need to stay on campus decreases because your life begins to take off. This is subjective and totally up to you to decide. But ask yourself, “How much have I gained from school?” If you’re unsure or the answer is “not as much as possible,” then maybe you should consider staying on-campus for a while.

3 thoughts on “Is it Better to Live On-Campus or Off-Campus? The Pros and Cons of Each”

  1. It’s better to live off campus & I would recommend every college student to live off campus. Living off campus will teach them life lessons on how to thrive themselves.

  2. I do like how you mentioned that getting an off-campus housing for our twins could potentially help them avoid the possibility of having to move out during the winter break which some schools do. That is great to have learned as it would most likely be an inconvenience for our children. That is why I will be sure to locate a nearby accessible off-campus housing near their college of choice. Thanks!

  3. Jessica says:

    I believe it is better to live off campus for some of those same reasons. I am trying to find ways to get out of staying in dorms and just live in an apartment with a friend.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.