College dorms can be a great way to socialize and feel part of a community filled with peers who share the same interest in music and social activities but it can also be very tight quarters that lack privacy. Financially, living on campus can be a major budget draining situation for both college students and their parents.
Most seasoned students start looking for off-campus accommodations once they have a year, or less, of campus living under their belt. The idea of living on campus is appealing to incoming freshmen because there is a certain level of comfort about creating a little world of independence that offers a sense of security. However, there are many reasons to consider living off-campus and weighing those against campus living.
Renting an apartment off-campus and a half-hour to an hour’s drive away can reduce college costs exponentially and put much-needed money in the college student’s pocket. Additional savings by sharing a house or apartment with good friends is a bonus.
Living off-campus affords the student to have quiet time to study and think. College dorms can be a beehive of activity that interrupts the process and make it inconvenient to have to seek the library by their set hours. Having their place also means having enough hot water and privacy in the bathroom and the bedroom.
Dorms can have too many regulations or too few. Living off-campus allows the student to set his/her schedule and have a much larger place without having to share and bear it all; sharing a space with total strangers or even good friends, can be very restrictive and inconvenient. Taking a long shower or spending time shaving without interruption in front of a mirror can seem like a luxury to dorm residents.
Living off-campus is often safer and more “normal” than living in a community of students who find reasons to experiment with boundaries, or having dorm neighbors who have not learned to respect other people’s space or property. The advantage of living in a residential community means that people know who belongs in the area, while college campuses are open to everyone and anyone. Campus police are often not sufficient to prevent or investigate assaults or theft.
College dorms are notorious for theft and people “borrowing” items without permission. Living off-campus allows the student to have better quality items that are covered by the renter’s insurance should those be misplaced or stolen. Laptops and bikes are often the most stolen items, but almost anything of an electronic nature is regularly reported as lost or stolen. Clothing items are often “borrowed” without permission and not returned, or returned in unusable condition.
College dorms don’t have a great deal of space and cooking meals that are satisfying and nutritious are almost impossible. A dorm refrigerator is good enough for a 6 pack of beer and a couple of apples. Aside from the fact that young people can survive on beer and coffee for at least a semester, having a full-size kitchen and refrigerator will not only allow for proper nutrition but will save a bundle of money on eating out.
Having the best of both worlds
Living off-campus allows the student to live like an adult in the adult world. Making connections among people who live steady and well-grounded lives in the community allows the students to have a greater perspective on what life outside of campus living feels like, which will make the eventual transition painless.
A bonus is knowing people who are currently working and earning in a variety of fields. These people can share valuable information about job openings and can put in a word or recommendation for the student looking for a part-time job or an internship to beef up their resume upon graduation. Being the first to know about a potential opening could net permanent employment in a highly competitive field.
Staying involved in campus activities provides the student with friendships, peers who share some of the same interest in entertainment, and a constant reminder that they are still young and that fun is just as important as working hard.
Eventually, everyone has to leave campus and strike gold in the outside world. As stated earlier, living off-campus allows students to have a real feel for the economic and employment situation in the area. Students living off-campus are more prone to shop where the locals shop and save money on essentials while discovering aspects of their college town and state that are not readily known to those who spend their semesters confined to campus and its immediate surrounding areas.
Since living off-campus allows the student to know people who already have jobs in various professions, getting a letter of recommendation from established “locals” can make the transition from college student to full-time employment in their chosen field a lot easier.
Socially, knowing a variety of people could introduce the college student to a permanent love interest and a greater variety of friends.
The main advantages of connecting with permanent residents are the sense of constancy and stability that is hard to find or enjoy in temporary housing and having a greater variety of friends and acquaintances that make life easier and enjoyable.
Credit report and FICO score
A student living off-campus who pays their bills on time will have a positive credit history that makes him/her a worthwhile candidate for a job. A good credit report and FICO score show stability and responsibility to future employers. Keep in mind that, right or wrong, in the United States it is very common for employers to pull the credit report of a potential candidate to assess their character and sense of responsibility. Additionally, a landlord that is pleased with his current tenant will gladly provide him/her with a letter of recommendation to a future landlord making the deposit on a new place much more affordable.
Evaluate the cost of college living with living off-campus and the various benefits and downfalls of each to assess what will work best for the future college student.