Picking a major, choosing classes and finding a job don't comprise the only concerns for a college student. One of the most critical decisions is whether to live at school or off campus in a house or apartment. Students who prefer to be close to the campus community often opt for dorm living, while others choose the more independent opportunity presented by off-campus housing.
Dorms and off-campus houses each offer social opportunities. Dorms typically house hundreds of residents, including a significant number on each floor. This provides access to more people. Dorms also commonly hold social events for residents to get together, and the facilities typically feature lobby areas or game rooms. Students looking for the "traditional" party opportunities might prefer off-campus housing. While apartment landlords expect you to respect their property, students face fewer restrictions on alcohol, the size of gatherings and noise volumes.
Living space in off-campus housing can vary greatly based on whether you live in a house or apartment and how many roommates you have. Still, dorm rooms are notoriously small. They normally have beds, closets and desks for each resident. This leaves little room for lounging or moving about. This set-up also provides little room for escape to solitude. Apartments and houses normally offer more living space. Residents might also have private bedrooms. They can more easily find quiet space for study or to engage in an activity alone.
Students sometimes shop around for off-campus housing to lower the costs of living compared with dorms. In some cases, living expenses can be similar. But on the whole, you can often find lower cost off-campus options. As of 2012, Colorado State University, for example, listed a monthly cost for a single standard dorm room of $1,364. This includes the room, utilities, television and food. It indicated a typical one-bedroom apartment cost of $1,260 per month, taking all of these expenses into account.
Dorms offer a much closer connection to the campus community. Students who want to get involved in clubs and intramural activities, use the school rec center and academic support center, visit with teachers, walk to classes and socialize with other on-campus residents would benefit from dorm living. Off-campus residents may have to drive to school if they live far enough from campus. Living off campus restricts the convenience of getting involved in activities and making use of school resources and facilities.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.