The choice between living on- or off-campus can be as difficult as choosing which college to attend. Just as you debated the pros and cons of each college campus and how each one best served your academic needs, similar
- Utilities Included – Unlike apartments, the Internet, telephone, cable, water, and electricity is typically included the dorm costs. Some colleges may charge a small connection fee for cable or Internet, but it’s not nearly as expensive as the monthly fees you would pay in an apartment.
- Graduation– Students in dorms are more likely to graduate on time or AT ALL. Students who live off campus are more likely to quit college or drop out.
- Social Life – Most college dorms have planned social activities each month that help students meet new people and make new friends. There are several campus activities, usually within walking distance of your dorm. For example, you might be able to go to a football game, watch a movie, or attend a club function. Don’t forget, most campus activities are also free to students!
- Better grades– Students in dorms have higher GPAs than students who live off campus. This may be due to easier studying with nearby classmates and libraries, or reduced outside pressures like parties. Whatever the case, if you care about your grades, stay in a dorm. One study found that “living on campus increases GPA by between .19 to .97….one fifth to a full letter grade.”
- Resident Advisor (RA) – Someone is always on staff at the dorms to handle emergencies or to lend a shoulder to cry on after a hard day. Think of your RA as a combination of building superintendent and your big brother/sister. He/she may also surprise you with goody bags and other trinkets around the holidays, as well as the occasional pizza party to celebrate finals week. Free stuff rocks!
- Fewer Chores – Many students who live on-campus also purchase a meal plan. This means you don’t have to cook or clean any dishes! The college may also provide cleaning services for the common areas and community bathrooms, so you’ll only be responsible for making your bed and washing your clothes. If you live in an apartment, expect to do everything yourself.
- Free Amenities – Some college dormitories come equipped with game rooms, pool tables, and a large-screen TVs for watching movies or sports. Some of the newer dorms, like the University of North Florida’s Osprey Fountains, also provide an on-site gym and even a lazy river! Living on-campus also cuts down your travel time, so if you tend to wake up right before class, you may be better suited for a dormitory
- Satisfaction with College– Students in dorms also report a higher level of satisfaction with their college and classes.
- Privacy – Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to have any privacy in a dorm, unless you spend a generous amount of money to live in a private room. Apartments provide much more privacy. Even if you choose a ‘shared’ apartment arrangement, which are popular at communities near college campuses, you will typically have a private bedroom and bathroom.
- Fewer Rules – In the dorm, you will have codes of conduct and possibly even a curfew. When you live in an apartment, you can come and go as you please, often with fewer restrictions on what you can do within your own space.
- More Space – In most cases, your apartment will have much more space than your dorm. You’ll have a full kitchen, a living area, a bedroom, and a private bathroom. In the dorm, you’ll be lucky to have enough space for your bed and a desk.
- Food may be Cheaper – In many cases, shopping for groceries and making your own meals is cheaper than the campus meal plans or ordering fast food. On-campus, you have fewer options for meals and you are at the mercy of the cafeteria’s hours. Living in an apartment gives you the option of more menu choices and you can eat whenever you feel hungry. Food is usually only cheaper for students who shop and cook for themselves. If you’re more likely to grab fast food or pay full price for meals on campus, this won’t be the case.
- Entertain Guests – Unlike the dormitory, you won’t have to ask permission of the RA or your roommate to have a guest over for dinner or to spend the night. Parties are also easier to host off-campus, but keep in mind your neighbors will not take kindly to loud music at all hours of the night.
Living in the dorm is a good choice for those who have never been away from home, especially for the first year while the student gets used to the college life and new town. It may also be cheaper than the rental fees in the communities surrounding your campus.
Before deciding which option may be best for you, consider all the costs associated with both living arrangements. Each will offer different challenges and perks, but both will help guide you on your path toward adulthood and parent-free living. In the battle between dorm and apartment living, there’s really no wrong or right answer; it’s a personal choice every college student will need to make.