Going to college is an exciting time. One of the decisions you’ll have to make is where to live. There are many options and each one offers different advantages. Many schools offer on-campus residence halls as well as housing sponsored by Greek organizations. You can also choose to live in an apartment or at home if your college is nearby. Consider your financial situation and what you hope to get out of your college experience when you make your decision. Researching your options in advance will help you find the right match.
Living on campus in a dorm can make the transition to living away from home easier, as many dorm packages include meal plans, cable television, workout facilities and other amenities. On-campus housing options range from suite living with several roommates to single occupancy dorm rooms, depending on the particular college's offerings, and prices tend to vary depending upon the number of roommates and what type of meal plan is chosen. Some colleges offer married student apartments located on campus. At many colleges, you pay one fee per semester and heat, air conditioning and electricity is included, alleviating the need to have monthly housing expenses set aside.
Out There On Your Own
If dorm life isn’t for you, college towns generally have a variety of off-campus apartments and rental houses available. An off-campus rental property allows you to select your roommates and the amenities that are most important to you. Off campus housing prices vary by area and housing type. For example, if you choose to live close to campus in a furnished apartment, you’ll likely pay more than if you live farther away in an unfurnished apartment. Most rental properties require a nine month or 12 month lease, so be sure you are planning on staying in school for the full year before you commit. You may be able to find a private room in exchange for caring for someone who requires additional assistance, as well. This can be an affordable option if you’re interested and have time to help someone in need.
Some fraternities and sororities have houses. Most Greek houses are privately owned, but some are located right on campus, depending on the school. Living in a sorority or fraternity house gives students the opportunity to be in the middle of the social action. This can be a positive or negative situation depending upon your interests and needs. Greek houses usually have limited room, so if you’re interested in this living arrangement, be sure to indicate your interest the year before you want to move in. In general, freshman are not allowed to live in Greek houses, either, because fraternities and sororities find new members after the school year has already begun.
If you live close enough to commute to school and are interested in an economical housing arrangement, living at home is an option to consider. Living at home will allow you to save money, be close to family and have the comfort of familiar surroundings. However, going to college offers the opportunity for students to learn independent adult skills and become involved in college life. If you live at home, you’ll have to put in extra effort to become connected to the campus. Joining a student organization or choosing to study on-campus can help combat loneliness and help you feel like a member of the campus community.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.