One of the first decisions every incoming freshman has to make is where to live. Thankfully, your options are pretty limited if mom and dad don’t live within a few miles of campus. You can either opt to bunk down in a dorm or a step into the “real world” by settling into your first apartment.
Not every student is ready to take life by the horns, cast off all support systems and live the life of freedom afforded by moving into his or her own apartment. Leaving the folks and venturing out on your own can be intimidating in and of itself, but living in a dorm can help balance your new found freedom with some still much-needed structure. Dorms typically have quiet hours to make it easier for students to get in some solid study time. They also typically offer helpful perks like a Residence Assistant (RA) to help answer questions, plan activities and provide guidance, a computer lab for those who need access to the wide world of technology, and a front desk for any unexpected situations like getting locked out of your room. But, as highlighted by a Bellerbys College story from this past fall, dorm living doesn’t mean you’re still under lock and key. There’s plenty of freedom to be had in a dorm, but with enough structure to keep you focused on being successful.
More connected to college life
Living in a dorm, you’re typically right in the mix of all of the various goings-on around campus. Not only are dorms themselves home to multiple events and special activities, but living in on-campus means you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from your classes, dining halls, campus convenience stores, concerts, sports, etc. Living off campus, it’s easy to forget that there’s more to college than attending class. Life in a dorm means you’ll have access to all sorts of extracurricular activities at the drop of a hat. The State News notes dorms provide “great social interaction,” something many college students crave once they’ve transitioned to life on campus.
Easier to budget
Just starting out in college, many are unaware of the sheer amount of bills one can accumulate in adulthood. Living in a dorm, all of that nonsense is condensed into a single, easy to understand, up-front bill. Once you cover your room, everything is taken care of, including electricity, water, heating/cooling, trash, sewage, internet, cable, etc. Living in an apartment, the vast majority of those amenities are typically broken down into individual bills you’ll have to juggle and are almost always more expensive, too.
The cacophony of college
You have to take the good with the bad, though. While some incoming students like the idea of getting the “full college experience,” all of that extra noise and running around isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Or, as Get Out Today suggests, all of those dorm activities can feel like “unavoidable obligations” or “nearly inescapable.” There’s always something going on around campus and, if you live in a dorm, you’re going to be living smack-dab in the middle of it. There’s also the concern about getting along with your roommate, random dorm mates dropping by or making all manner of noise, etc. If you’re one for peace, quiet and privacy, you might be ready to seek out your own apartment.
Many college students go to school in the city they hope to make their home following graduation. If you decide to move into a dorm room, you’re going to need to pack up and move all over again once you’re ready to put on your cap and gown. Getting settled into an apartment means you’ll be able to keep cruising directly into the real world once graduation rolls around. There’s also the added bonus of slowly furnishing your apartment over time rather than moving out and suddenly discovering that you don’t even own a bed, desk or couch. If, say you’re planning on attending USC next semester, you could go ahead and start the planning stages by checking out Los Angeles apartments, find the best deal, nail down your preferred location and getting ready to start building your life for during and after college.
Having all of your amenities bundled into a single fee is nice and all, but sometimes even that can be very limiting. Campus Internet not fast enough? Too bad, you can’t upgrade. Want a certain cable package not covered by basic? Not going to happen. Enjoy cooking your own meals? Typically a no-no. While some dorms have a shared kitchen available, you will be limited to what’s available on a case by case basis. Your fridge space will typically be limited to a tiny 3×2 box and, when it comes to getting things done in your own room, microwaves, hot pots and heating plates are frequently against the rules due to the fire risk. Living in a dorm, your options when it comes to the various ins and outs of modern living are typically set in stone.