Living on Campus vs Living off Campus: Weighing Your Options


You’re getting ready to enter college, so you undoubtedly have a lot of decisions to make. From choosing between a traditional campus versus online college, to deciding on your major, there’s a lot you have to manage. Another thing you will consider during this process is the differences between living on campus vs living off campus.


Every person has their own reasons for what they choose to do in the end. The truth is, there are a lot of variables that contribute to each experience. Looking at each situation with a different lens, whether its based on socializing or financial concerns, can bring both good and bad to light.


To help you weigh the differences, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of living on campus vs living off campus.



College dorm room

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash



Weighing the Differences

Living On Campus – The Pros


Living on campus has a lot to offer for you, including:


1. Proximity to class:


For starters, if you’re attending an on-campus college and living on campus, then you’re at school all the time. This means that you will always be physically close to class. Therefore, you will alleviate the burden of having to commute and also decrease commuting costs.



2. Unparalleled Experience:


Overall, one of the perks of leaving home or where you’re used to living to attend college and live on campus is the actual experience of doing so. There’s no other time in life that you will live at school, so it’s something to try if it feels right for you.



3. Amenities:


Most dorms and on-campus apartments have amenities, like laundry machines and balconies or rooftops for socializing. Depending on your school of choice, amenities will vary.



4. Meal plan:


A lot of colleges provide students the option to opt into a meal plan when they live on campus. This means that students are allocated with a certain amount of meal “points” or currency to buy from the on-campus cafeterias and shops.



5. Socializing:


Living on campus means that your peers are always nearby. Whether you have roommates, share a suite or are in dorms close to one another, you can maximize your socialization opportunities by living on campus.



6. Security:


Colleges prioritize security. Some dorms and apartments will have doormen and check-ins for guests. Others will have security patrolling the area 24/7. So, at all times, you are secure.



7. Sleeping in:


Being on campus and closer to class means that you can sleep in more often. Say you have a morning class at 8 AM. Rather than factoring in the commuting time, time it takes to find a parking spot or wait for the bus, the time for sitting in traffic and all that jazz, you can roll out of bed and walk over to class.



8. Housing resources:


Most colleges are equipped with the resources to make the transition to living on campus as seamless as possible. From advising centers to computer rooms, these resources exist to help students adjust to their new environment.



Living On Campus – The Cons


On the flip side, living on campus may not be as glamorous as it sounds. Here are some of the downsides:


1. Costly:


Often, living on campus is more expensive than living off campus. This is because you’re paying for the convenience and amenities, as well as the overhead costs for running a school.



2. Limited privacy:


Living on campus also means that you are not always in control of how much privacy you have. Even if you are able to secure your own room, you will likely share bathrooms, common areas, and the like with other students.



3. Concentration challenge:


The ability to concentrate while living on campus can become challenging. From social opportunities, parties, loud neighbors, roommates, etc., you may find yourself struggling to stay focused on schoolwork while living on campus.



4. Housing based on classification:


Living on campus means that you are organized based on age and year, as well as gender, at times. So, you may not get to choose who you house or dorm with.



5. Roommates:


For most students who live on campus, you can expect to have roommates or multiple people living in suites within a dorm.



Living Off Campus – The Pros


Some students may instead wish to live off campus. If you are attending online college, then off campus is going to be your only option. There are some really great benefits to choosing to live off campus, which include:


1. Space:


When you live off campus, you have more freedom to choose where you live and how much space you need for yourself. Even if you choose to have a roommate(s), you can apartment hunt for the type of space that suits your needs.



2. Privacy:


When living off campus, you may live alone or with others. Either way, you can control your privacy. You can lock your door, go to the common area and be alone, and more.



3. Independence and adulthood:


Living off campus also provides you with an added aura of growing up. You will have less resources to depend on that are given to you by a school, so you’ll have to manage things yourself.



4. Can live where you want:


Location-wise, the freedom is yours to choose. Living on campus gives you only so many options as to what is available. When you live off campus, you can find a place close or far from campus, depending on what you prioritize.



5. May save money:


Living off campus can end up being cheaper than on campus if you find the right type of place. You can also choose who you live with to lessen the costs.



6. Commuter programs:


Many schools have commuter programs that offer socialization opportunities and networking events so that commuters can still connect and experience what it would be like to live on campus.



Living Off Campus – The Cons


As we looked at the downsides of living on campus, we will do the same for those who are considering living off campus.


1. Potentially far from school:


You may only find an affordable location far from campus. This means that you’ll have to factor in commuting time and costs and potentially spend valuable time on transportation. If there isn’t good access to public transportation, you’ll have to consider alternatives like buying or renting a car or using ride-sharing services like Uber.



2. Increased Responsibility:


When you live on campus, everything is included in the costs, from food to bills. When you live off campus, you’ll have to set up internet, electricity, water, and pay your bills yourself. This contributes to an added layer of responsibility.



3. Missed opportunities:


Living off campus may make you feel like you are missing an opportunity — namely that once-in-a-lifetime college experience. For some, it’s very important, and for others, there are bigger variables that will overshadow this fact when factoring your options.



Student on laptop sitting on bed

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash



The Main Things to Consider

All in all, it’s important to take into consideration the following main points when deciding whether living on campus vs living off campus is right for you:


  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Privacy
  • Social commitment
  • Security and medical care
  • Finances
  • Roommates
  • Living expenses


Attending Online University – The Many Pros

For a majority of college students, financial considerations are at the top of their mind when attending school. That’s because college is expensive — but it doesn’t have to be.


Did you know that you could attend an accredited and American institution that is tuition-free? By enrolling at the University of the People, you can earn your degree in one of four subjects. These include: Computer Science, Health Science, Business Administration, and Education.


The benefits of attending the University of the People start with it being tuition-free, but there’s more to the institution than that!


You will have:

  • Increased flexibility for your schedule — choose to enroll part-time or full-time
  • Study whenever you want and wherever you want — everything is online
  • You will never have to commute anywhere
  • You can socialize and connect with students from over 200 regions and countries around the world


The Bottom Line

Choosing between on campus vs off campus living is a highly subjective decision. Depending on your priorities, you’ll want to take into consideration: costs, location, privacy, amenities, overall living expenses, and more before choosing what is better for you.


If you instead decide to enroll in an online university, then you will live off campus by default. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to have the college experience. You can still communicate with and meet peers from your online classes. In fact, you may even choose to live together with someone else who is a part of the same program.


Where you live is just one part of going to college, but it is definitely something important to consider seriously.




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