Different Kinds of Living Arrangements in College

Many students end up living arrangements outside of dorms after freshman year, such as in apartments.

Flickr user Susan Sermoneta

Often one of the first thoughts upon entering college as a freshmen concerns dorms—how to decorate them, wondering if such a small space is really enough, thinking about closet-space and the tiny beds, and so on.

Most freshmen spend their first year in dorms. But what about sophomore year? If you loved your dorm experience, you might just sign up for it again. But what about those who desire other living arrangements? What options are there for students attending college?


Well, we touched on this a little already. Dorms are often at the forefront of the “where to live at college” thought process. You see dorms in movies, hear about dorm parties or roommate horror stories, and a lot of emphasis is put on freshmen move-in day. Many colleges actually require first-year students to live in the dorms.

There are a variety of dorm types—from the cramped two-person room to the even more cramped three-person, from doubles that have a bit more space, to even bigger rooms that might have a private bathroom. Some students love the hustle and bustle that comes with close living arrangements. Dorms are a great way to make new friends of your hall-mates, as oftentimes floors will arrange special events like movie or craft nights.

Off-Campus Housing

Typically by junior or senior year, students are ready to put a little bit of distance between themselves and the heart of campus. It’s great to get involved and engage the first few years, but when you’ve been at college for a while you’re likely already in a few orgs or clubs.

Off-campus housing—whether houses or apartments—offer a sort of buffer zone between you and the ever-lively campus. This can help with focusing on studies rather than dealing with loud people or concerts. Having a more private living arrangement can reduce stress and gives you more space to lay out your things.

Of course, there are leases to sign, utilities to pay, and roomie rent money to keep track of. All the same, the freedom may be worth it.

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Sorority / Fraternity House

Those who decide to go Greek can find themselves living in a historic frat or sorority house with their fellow brothers and sisters. This lends itself to more space yet still maintains a sense of community. Like any form of housing, there are still fees to pay every semester.

Sorority and Frat houses differ from campus to campus, as do the chapters themselves. In some the average pay will be higher or lower than others. Some offer meal plans, others don’t. It depends on that particular campus, so if you’re interested make sure you do plenty of research–even before rushing.

University Housing

An alternative to the dorms is university housing. These can include multi-bedroom apartments that have a more spacious atmosphere than the cramped dorms. Since it’s still owned by the university, there may be rules and conditions that still apply to you that wouldn’t at an independent apartment—rules like quiet hours or no pets.

On the bright side, oftentimes you don’t have to worry about utility bills or cable, because it will be provided for you (and you’ll likely pay room and board just like you did in the dorms).

University housing, though definitely more independent than the dorms, still generally offers special events and get-togethers like the dorm floors do. They are a great way to relax from your hard work and get to know other students.

Living at Home

If you’re going to college close to home, why not live at home? This option can save you big bucks where room and board, utilities, and rent would gouge your wallet. Of course, Mom and Dad might ask you to do some extra chores around the house, and have you be responsible for your own laundry now, but it’s a valid option all the same.

Living at home might mean you have an extra commute to campus, so having a car, working out a bike path, or taking the bus will be important factors to work out. But hey, at least at home you know the rules and you probably get your own room.

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