Figuring out where to live is a key concern for college students. While academics are a primary focus in college, a comfortable, affordable place to live contributes to the overall experience. Students generally have four housing options while in school — at home with mom and dad, a dorm room, an off-campus apartment or house or a fraternity or sorority house.
For students attending a community college or a nearby four-year school, living at home is an option, assuming this works for their parents. Living at home offers a number of benefits. For example, students who choose this option save money on room and board, don’t have to worry about moving their stuff and keep the creature comforts of their childhood room. Some students also prefer to keep close to their family for support as they start school. However, continuing to live at home may impede a student’s ability to develop independence, so some parents encourage their kids to move out even if they are going to school nearby. Parents may also pressure students more about academic performance and have more influence over their social interactions if they live at home.
A dorm room is a room in an on-campus residential building that is generally shared with a roommate. Dorms give students close access to classes, the gym and other buildings. They also are typically a part of a room and board package, so students’ living expenses bills are more consolidated. Dorm rooms can feel cramped, though, as space is usually limited. Each student gets a bed, a desk and closet space. Roommate conflicts and constant closeness can frustrate dorm residents. Some colleges also offer on-campus housing in apartment-style buildings where you may have four to six roommates sharing a common living space, bathroom and kitchen instead of a whole floor of students sharing bathrooms and eating at a cafeteria.
Some colleges requires that students live in on-campus housing through their freshman or sophomore year, but allow them to move off campus for their remaining time at school. An off-campus apartment often has more overall room and private space than a dorm room. It also offers a bit of breathing space between campus life and a student’s personal and social life. Rules are often more lax in off-campus apartments, which can be nice for adult students or it can present more temptations for younger college students. Off-campus living does usually mean a longer walk or a drive to get to campus, classes and other activities. You also don’t get the planned social events that some dorms offer residents.
Greek Life House
At colleges with fraternities and sororities, students may have the option of living with other chapter members in a Greek life house. This helps in developing a close bond and social network, which is a core purpose of Greek life. Students living in these houses also get the benefits of living on or near campus without the cramped dorm room space. A frat or sorority house may have 20 to 30 residents, though. This means the students must take many people’s feelings and habits into consideration. Students may also find the social activities and parties in some houses a bit much when trying to focus on studies.