Dorm Life vs. Off Campus Housing

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While freshmen traditionally live in dorms, other college students have numerous possibilities for where to live each school year. Some students choose the convenience and low maintenance of on-campus housing, while others seek the freedom and independence of their own apartment. Living on and off-campus have considerable differences in costs, responsibilities and social factors.

Costs

  • Because living in a dorm usually requires you to pay for room and board up front per semester and purchase a meal plan, many students think that living off-campus is less expensive. In reality, you need to factor in numerous other expenses for an apartment that you wouldn't have for dorm housing. For example, students living in apartments are often responsible for some or all utilities, including water, heat, Internet and electric. Living off-campus also requires other expenses, such as groceries, renter's insurance and cleaning supplies.

Community

  • While it's still possible to connect with neighbors and roommates in an apartment, off-campus housing doesn't allow for the campus life opportunities of dorm living. Because you live closer to the university's center of activity, you're more able to know about and attend student life events and programs. Many residence halls also offer fun social activities to help students get to know each other. DeSales University's residence life website also reports that involvement in campus life leads to greater student happiness, accomplishment and eventual degree completion.

Independence

  • Although it may seem far off, college will eventually be over and you'll be living on your own. One advantage of living off-campus is that you get the experience of independent living while still being a part of the university. Along with being able to direct your own activities without having to abide by dorm rules, you get the experience of managing your own finances, caring for a living space and cooking for yourself. Taking on greater responsibility offers preparation for life after college and a better transition into the work world.

Convenience

  • While living in an apartment offers a chance for independence, there's no denying that dorm life is ultimately more convenient. Because housekeepers maintain the bathrooms and common areas of dorms, you only need to clean your own living space rather than a whole apartment. The easy accessibility of maintenance personnel also means that you aren't responsible for any repairs the way you would be in an apartment. Because you're required to be on a meal plan, you don't have to cook for yourself; having dinner prepared for you can be a huge convenience the night before a big exam.

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