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Choosing Where to Live in College: Dorms or Apartments

By Malcolm Rivers

As a college student, you have the chance to enjoy an unprecedented level of independence, autonomy and freedom. Along the way, you encounter challenges and major decisions that may not have been factors for you before. One of these might be where to live and how to live wherever you decide to. There are several factors that should influence this decision for you; here are some of them.

Accessibility, Community and Social life

Living on campus, with peers, is one of the seminal experiences of college. Having many of your friends and peers in the immediate area, regulated and monitored (as well as cared for) by proctors can help many students adjust to the transition of suddenly being outside of the structure provided by their home environments. It can also be fun. College dorms can allow students to form bonds with their peers that can create lifelong friendships and much of that is facilitated by living in close proximity and enjoying the mutual experiences provided by said proximity.

The proximity based accessibility of this sense of community and the social life it supports can also get many students through some considerable challenges. Living away from family, the people who've known and loved you for your whole life, can be difficult and lonely. When this isolation is combined with the inherent challenges, pressures and confusion of collegiate decisions and their implications; the influence of your college decisions on your future career and opportunities; the result can be very psychologically difficult which is why many universities and colleges have structures set up to address these needs. Access to these structures is based primarily on campus, making proximity to campus more important.

Despite the aforementioned benefits of on campus housing, many of these opportunities can be obtained off campus, in an apartment, as well. Just because one does not live in a dorm, does not guarantee that one cannot enjoy all of the positives mentioned and avoid the negatives, there are just more benefits, in these areas, to life on campus. We'll get into some of the benefits of life in an apartment, off campus, later in the article.

Costs

The issue of costs can be complicated and varies significantly based on individual policies of universities, landlords and are frequently based on location and costs in the area. Frequently universities and colleges have meal and residence plans and the like which allow students access to living on campus. These plans can be costly, depending on a student's scholarship criteria, economic need, membership on a team or organization, participation in a fraternity or on other factors. This issue is much more situationally dependent due to the varying degrees of real estate costs in the cities in which these colleges and universities are.

Independence, Responsibility and Connection to Real Life

Living off campus can enhance a student's ability to transition smoothly into the real world. Paying rent, dealing with subletting, deposits, agreements, leases and all of the other logistical concerns and lessons of living in an apartment can significantly benefit students. It also can be a maturation process, as rental agreements can be much less forgiving than the regulations of dorms which habitually contain students and thus are more likely to used to accommodating the immaturity of young people fresh from their parents' family homes. The maturity gained from these experiences can also be a realistic look at the complexity of adult life which can help direct a student's choices regarding career ideas and opportunities or even how they look at life in general. This sobering, no pun intended, introduction to real life can really provide perspective and benefit students in a variety of ways.

There are potential pluses and minuses to any experience. Living on campus can connect you with resources, friends and many other wonderful supports. Living off campus can be a maturing crash course in the logistics of, and perspectives on, adult life. Use this information to make the best decision for you or for your loved one in college and, as always, do your own research with these ideas as a foundation. Good luck!

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About The Author

In 2005, Malcolm attended Harvard University where he received his Bachelors of Arts...

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