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Living at Home During College: Is It A Good Idea?

Commuter students face a unique set of challenges. Find out if it’s a good idea for you to live with your parents while you study.

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Even once you’ve chosen a college and been accepted, you’re still not finished making tough decisions. The next one on your list might be where to live. The choice to live on campus or at home isn’t an easy one, but it can have a huge impact on your college experience. While living at home during college is definitely not for everyone, it has some distinct advantages.

Why Live at Home? Pros and Cons

The main reason for living at home is, of course, money. Dorms are expensive, and they’re not getting any cheaper. At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, yearly costs for student housing are more than $9,000 for a double and $10,400 for a single. These prices are fairly typical for a large four-year university, so just in your first year, you’d be out $10,000 that you could have saved by commuting from home.

Discuss the pros and cons with your parents to figure out which choice is right for you.

Some commuter students also find it easier to focus. When you’re in a residence hall, your life is full of distractions. Friends, parties and living in close proximity with a stranger can make for a loud, disorienting environment. At home, you don’t have to head to the library whenever you need to study; you’ll always have your room when you need privacy and a quiet place.

On the flip side, commuting from home can be detrimental to your social life. This isn’t as much of an issue at community and technical colleges, where most students commute. However, at more traditional campuses, most first-year students initially make friends through their residence hall.

Keep in mind, too, that if you like living at home, it’ll be harder to leave the longer you stay there. Living in dorms helps you make a transition to an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle that might not happen if you continue to live with your parents. There are still rules in residence halls, but you’ll have more freedom than you would at home.

Tips for Students Living at Home

  • Make sure you can keep living with your family harmoniously. While this may seem obvious, it’s important to consider your relationship with your parents and/or siblings before you decide to live at home.
  • Spend lots of time on campus. In order to compensate for not living on campus, you’ll have to increase your efforts to meet other students and familiarize yourself with the school.
  • Keep a hobby. Staying occupied can be tricky while living at home, especially if most of your friends have moved away to college, but it’s important to have something to do in your free time.
  • Join clubs or sports teams. One risk of commuting is reduced involvement in student activities. This involvement is crucial, particularly in your freshman year.
  • Pinch those pennies. Remember that one of the main reasons you’re living at home is to save money. Don’t lose sight of this as you proceed through college.

Tips for Parents of Commuter Students

  • Be supportive. You’d probably prefer that your son or daughter live on campus, and chances are they probably prefer it too. Living at home may not be an ideal choice for you or your child, but it’s a financially smart one.
  • Treat them like adults. Your student isn’t in high school anymore, and doesn’t want to be treated like a high school student. This can help maintain a stable relationship and minimize conflict.
  • Don’t let them become insulated by the home environment. Make sure they’re making an effort to meet other students and become involved with campus life.
  • Remember that they’re juggling home and school lives, which can be tricky. Be patient as they find the right balance.
  • Keep in mind that they’re going through one of the most dramatic changes in their life so far. Adjusting to college is difficult, whether you live at home or on campus.

Living at Home Conclusions

While some institutions, such as Georgia State University, are increasing on-campus housing, living at home remains an attractive option for many students. For example, Kennesaw State University has a total enrollment of more than 23,000, but only about 3,000 students live on campus.

Of course, the numbers depend on the school. At colleges with more traditional campuses, more students tend to choose university housing. Some institutions, such as the University of Southern California, even require first-year students to live on campus.

Unless there’s a requirement, though, the decision is ultimately up to you. There is no right or wrong answer at to whether to live at home in college. Discuss the pros and cons with your parents as you figure out which choice is right for you.

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