What are the pros and cons of living on-campus and off-campus?

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Answered by: Fiona, An Expert in the College Life - General Category
As you get ready to begin your first year at college, one of the decisions you face is whether to live in a dorm or in an apartment off-campus. Deciding whether to live on-campus or off-campus is a very personal choice, and both options have their advantages and disadvantages. However, there are certain factors which every incoming freshman should consider. Once you are familiar with the pros and cons of living on-campus vs. off-campus, you can begin to decide which factors are most important to you.Living off-campus appeals to many students primarily because it can be much less expensive than living in a dorm. Even including the cost of utilities, living in an apartment is usually cheaper than paying for board on-campus, especially when you take into account the difference in space. While in a dorm, students are often squished into a tiny room, usually with a roommate, in an apartment you have your own room and maybe even a bathroom to yourself, as well as a kitchen in which you can try out cooking for yourself.

Apartment living allows far more privacy than living on-campus, where even if you don't end up sharing a room, you will still have to deal with RA's who, depending on the school, may limit your freedom. Some dorms frown upon members of the opposite sex visiting or enforce curfews, and most dorms don't allow the consumption of alcohol within your room. In contrast, students living in an apartment are free to live with boyfriends or girlfriends if they choose, and face consequences for drinking in their home only if underage and if caught by law enforcement. In general, living off-campus offers a greater opportunity for independence, which can be a blessing or a burden depending on the individual. Some students enjoy the challenge of running their own household for the first time, while others find that the added responsibilities are just too much to handle on top of the stress of starting a new school. On the other hand, living on-campus means easy access to the cafeteria, the library, and all your school's academic buildings. On-campus students are saved the hassle of commuting to and from classes, which can be an essential factor to consider for students who don't own their own vehicles. It is much easier to take advantage of on-campus resources, such as counselors, health services, and recreation centers if you live within walking distance. Opinions are divided as to whether living on- or off-campus is more conducive to academic success: while on-campus students can more readily hit the library, they usually find it difficult to study in their rooms without being distracted.

While not exactly conducive to doing homework, dorms are a perfect place to explore your college's social scene. Living exclusively with fellow students means that new friends are just a few doors away, and thanks to bulletin boards and fliers you will find it easy to keep up with your campus' events. For those aren't exactly natural social butterflies, it can be much easier to meet people when you are surrounded exclusively by those of your own age group. And if your campus is one of the few that allows alcohol consumption, you have the added advantage of being able to simply walk to and from parties, eliminating the hassle and possible danger of partying off-campus, where you will need to find a designated driver and are more likely to run into suspicious people.

Each student must come to his or her own decision about where to live, and for most, certain factors will stand out as deciding issues. However, understanding the pros and cons of living on-campus and off-campus will hopefully help you to make an informed decision.

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