Living Off-Campus and Commuting:
Is It the Right Choice for You?
By Jess, age 24, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Making the choice between living off-campus and commuting or dorming can be an overwhelming decision when you are unsure of what's the right choice for you. A lot of people will tell you that you only gain the "college experience" by dorming. This might be true in a lot of instances, but you will lack in other areas over choosing to commute.
If it is feasible for you to imagine yourself living in a confined space with a stranger in order to be close to school, easier access to student facilities and necessities, and the ability to be involved with your school as much as possible, then dorming would be a good choice for you. If, however, the thought of being in a confined space with a stranger is completely out of your comfort zone then it would be wise to examine what your options are.
It is not only a matter of personal taste, but also a financial choice. If you have the means to live off-campus and are able to commit yourself to being available when needed at school, then commuting might be the right thing for you. When dorming, a lot of students find themselves without a car or other means of transportation at their will. It depends on where the school is located and what kind of public transportation is offered. This is a factor to consider when dorming and what you are willing to sacrifice for the sake of being close to school. A lot of students who can afford the time (or need the money) choose to get a job while in school. Living off-campus is the easiest way to hold a job and still go to school.
Many Things to Consider
Living off-campus would require you to have a car and/or other means of transportation to get to class. If you are considering joining a sorority it is required that you dorm at the sorority house. If participating in a club or sports team where your time might not be so flexible outside of school, it would be best to dorm where you can devote all your time to being where you are needed on the campus. Each person's situation, schedule, and concentration will be different, and it is up to you, maybe with the help of your parents or mentor, to decide what's the best decision for you.
Make a detailed list of what you are needed for at school and how many activities you are planning on being involved in. If you are planning on living off-campus, find out if your student loans will cover student living costs. There are many options to make the right living situation for yourself. A lot of variables are involved and the most important is the school location. Being in the city makes it easy to be a student and have a means for transportation to nearby stores and restaurants, hospitals, gyms, clubs, etc. Some will be within walking distance.
The first year is a good year to dorm, where you can settle in and make friends while becoming accustomed to the school. Living off-campus will leave you detached in some areas, and it is in your hands to be there as you are needed and as much as you desire outside of the requirements. If you find you don't like dorming, you have three more years to change your situation.
Make Your Own Decision
Whatever your decision is, make sure you've thought about all the pros and cons and have done as much research as possible on what's best for you. Don't dorm because your best friend dorms, or live off-campus because your friends want to get a place though you would rather live on campus. These are your last important years before heading out, and this isn't high school anymore. Each decision you make must be about what's best for you. So stay true to yourself and try your hardest, and everything will fall into place.