One of the biggest decisions students make when attending college, university, or graduate school is whether to live off-campus in an apartment or whether to live in a dorm room.
For those who have the option, though, there are many considerations that can help determine whether apartment living or dorm living is the better option. As with many of life’s decisions, there are pros and cons to each option, and only the individual student can decide which is right for him or her.
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Dorm life: The pros
Living in a dormitory certainly has its benefits. For starters, it is one of the hallmarks of the higher education experience. There are many other things to recommend dorm life, as well. Living in close quarters with one another can be a good way for students to get to know each other and make lasting friendships.
Spontaneous activities, invitations to events and parties, and people to socialize with are some of the best parts of living in dorms. Many schools even have theme dorms, where students who share a particular interest or activity can live together in the same hall or building.
Another great thing about dorm life is that, at most schools, the details are worked out beforehand and all students have to do is show up and pay the bill. Instead of having to deal with the stress and uncertainty of finding an apartment, finding roommates, filling out rental applications, paying a security deposit, and dealing with the landlord, students only need to sign up for campus housing, and the rest is taken care of.
This is particularly useful for younger students who are just transitioning to college life and may not be fully prepared to find independent housing. Dorm living can also be a good option for busy graduate students who don’t have the time or inclination to find temporary housing year after year.
Dorm life: The cons
College and university dormitories sometimes have a bad reputation. Because they are occupied by young adults without experience living on their own, and because students typically only spend one academic year in their dorm rooms, on campus housing can be messy, noisy, and residents can be disrespectful. This is by no means true of every dorm living situation, but concerned students should be mindful of this reputation before they sign on to live in the dorms.
There are other downsides to living in dorms that could sway some people in favor of apartment life. For example, full-time students who live in the dormitories could find that they don’t get to spend as much time away from campus as they would like. Students who go back and forth from the classroom to the dorm room, stopping occasionally at the university dining hall, scarcely see the world outside of school, and for some people this is a drawback of dorm life. Those who don’t want their entire life to be on campus might consider apartment living.
Apartment Life: The Pros
Apartment life has many factors working in its favor. Independent living is one of the best things about being an adult, and many college students are experiencing their first opportunity to live on their own. In an apartment, students can feel more independent and don’t have to abide by strict university or dorm rules. Additionally, students can choose what part of a city or area they would like to live in. Some people prefer quieter neighborhoods while others want to be in the city center. Apartment life affords students this choice, within reason.
The cost of apartment life is highly dependent on geographical region, but in many areas living in apartments can be cheaper than living in the dorms. Students who are trying to save money can live with roommates in a larger apartment or house to keep costs down. This is one of the major benefits of apartment life, but students should take care to factor in utility bill costs and other expenses when making their housing calculations.
Apartment Life: The Cons
For students and professionals alike, apartment life has some serious drawbacks. One of the major problems with apartment life is that it can be unpredictable. It’s often difficult to assess how fair or helpful a landlord will be, how courteous the neighbors really are, and so on. Many people have experienced apartment situations that seemed acceptable at first but quickly turned bad after the lease had been signed. Depending on the area, renters don’t always have much recourse in these situations.
For students particularly, living off campus in an apartment can have some unique drawbacks. In some areas, affordable apartments are located a long distance from campus, meaning that students have to commute to class every day, which can get expensive.
With a student’s schedule and on a student’s budget, dealing with the ins and outs of apartment living can be impractical, especially if anything ever goes wrong, and in many areas apartments come unfurnished.Despite these drawbacks, many students choose to live in apartments, and ultimately each individual must decide which option is better.