living on-campus vs. off-campus

Posted : May 3, 2005
Last Updated : February 16, 2016

living on-campus vs. off-campus

It's the question that every college student must answer: should you live on-campus or off-campus? Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is crucial for you to weigh your choices before you make a final decision. To help you choose between the two, here are some pros and cons of living on-campus and off-campus.


  • Accessibility to the school. If you live on-campus, you can easily walk to classes, libraries, computer labs, cafeterias, etc. You don't have to waste time and money on driving to school, finding a parking space, and so forth.
  • Lively social life. Living on-campus will allow you to meet more people and establish more friendships than if you live off-campus. Living in a dorm means that there will always be someone around to hang out with. You will also usually be aware of any campus activities and how to be involved in them.
  • Simplicity. If you live on-campus, you don't have to worry about monthly rent payments, utility bills, and grocery shopping. Most students who live in a dorm get a meal plan in order to make eating easy and convenient. (Although, you will probably still want to dine in your dorm room from time to time.)


  • Little privacy. When living in a dorm, it can be very hard to find privacy. You have to share bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. The close living quarters mean that you may never have quiet time in your dorm because there will always be something going on.
  • Limited space. At most colleges, the dorm rooms are tiny. You have to limit what you bring to school, or your space will be too crowded. Check out these tips to best utilize your space when living in a dorm room.
  • Possible low GPA. Because dorm life is very social, your grades may be affected in a negative way. If you constantly choose hanging out with your dorm buddies over studying at the library, then your GPA will suffer.


  • Independence. You will not have to follow as many rules if you live off-campus. Residence halls have several rules that students must abide by when living on-campus. (These rules are usually designed for the overall protection and safety of the residents). Living off-campus will give you freedom from those rules and allow you to set your own.
  • Privacy. Living off-campus means that you will more than likely have your own bedroom so you can have a place to sneak off and have time alone away from your roommates. The extra space also means that you can probably find a quiet place to study in the convenience of your own home.
  • Sense of responsibility. Living off-campus will help you be more responsible. If you live off-campus, you will be in charge of paying bills, cleaning house, grocery shopping, and cooking. Being responsible is a good quality to possess (in case you consider this one a con).


  • More expensive. Often, off-campus housing is more expensive than on-campus housing. Utilities and cable can be an added monthly expense, and you may have to pay for your own Internet access.
  • Transportation. When living off-campus, it may not be convenient for you to walk to campus so you would have to find transportation. Whether you drive your car or use a form of public transportation, it is still going to cost you money. Traffic can also be an issue if you live in a crowded area.
  • Isolation. If you live off-campus, you may not be as involved with campus activities as you would if you lived on-campus. This could cause you to feel a sense of detachment with your college and cause you to not make as many friends.

When deciding whether to live on-campus or off-campus, think about what is important to you. You may even want to put together a list of your own pros and cons. Keep in mind that some colleges do not let first-year students live in an off-campus apartment; you would either have to live in a residence hall or at home with your family. Check with your chosen school for regulations.

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