Next to actually choosing a college, deciding where to live is one of the biggest decisions for a college student. Campus life is a common choice for incoming freshmen -- some colleges even require first-year students to live in dorms. With the pros and cons in mind, you can make a better decision on where to live and prepare yourself for the ups and downs of dorm living.
A spot in the dorms puts you right in the thick of college life. You have a quick walk to all of your classes, your adviser's office and other campus destinations. Living on campus eliminates the need for a vehicle because everything is accessible on foot from your dorm. Most campuses have dining centers that are typically located near the dormitories. If you wake up late and don't have much time before class, you may still have a chance to grab breakfast from the dining center.
On-campus living makes it easier for you to get involved in college life beyond your classes. You are surrounded by peers who are experiencing the same things as you. Hanging out in the dorms gives you a chance to meet new friends who share similar interests. Resident assistants often plan activities and events for dorm residents to offer additional social outlets. Spontaneous gatherings in the dorms are also common. Students living off campus miss out on many of these opportunities for involvement.
Choosing to live in a dorm allows you to budget for your expenses. You pay a set amount for your housing and your dining plan. Dorm residents aren't responsible for individual utility bills like their peers who live in apartments off campus. Most colleges allow students to pay in installments throughout the year. You'll know ahead of time exactly how much you'll pay each month. Your living expenses on campus may also qualify for financial aid to help offset the costs.
With hundreds of undergrads crammed into one building, you won't find much privacy when you live in a dorm. Most dorm residents share a small room with at least one other student. You also share a restroom with the other dorm dwellers in your section of the building. Dorms don't usually offer any area for you to get away for a quiet retreat. Loud neighbors or dorm friends who invite themselves into your room interfere with your privacy even more.
Dorm living is regulated much more than apartment life. Even before you arrive on campus you'll need to review the rules on items you're allowed to bring into the dorms. Your toaster, candles, hot plates and other potentially dangerous appliances aren't welcome, for instance. Dorms sometimes enforce quiet hours after a certain time. Some campuses also restrict visitors during certain times.
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