On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Housing
Weigh the pros and cons of living off campus.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make about residential life is whether you choose to live on campus.
At many schools, students live on campus for their freshman and sophomore years and then move into an apartment or house with their friends for the remainder of their college years. You’ll have more freedom and independence, but you should be aware of the pros and cons before signing a lease.
Get to know your neighbors, and always let them know when you are hosting a big event before it actually happens.
Certain schools, like the University of Wisconsin - Madison, do not guarantee on-campus housing. However, plenty of alternative college housing options are available to students.
No matter what direction you are leaning, you should know all the options and resources that are available so you can make the most informed and best decision for you and your potential roommates.
Whether you’re unable to get into university housing or you’ve decided you’d like a different living environment, don’t think you’re totally on your own. Colleges offer a number of services designed to make the process of finding off-campus housing efficient and easy.
- The University of Maryland has a roommate-finder if you’re in need of one or more people to fill out your living arrangement. You can post and browse profiles in order to find students you think you’ll be able to get along with.
- Rutgers University posts the average rent for apartments, houses and townhouses. See if your school posts similar information, and make sure you keep these numbers in mind to make sure you don’t overpay when you sign a lease.
- If you’re in between apartments during the summer or you can’t commit to an entire year because you’re studying abroad, Georgetown University has short-term rental options that last anywhere from one week to six months.
- The University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech allow students to buy and sell furniture through their websites. Remember, unlike a dorm, your apartment or house might not be furnished.
Off-Campus Housing: Tips and Tactics
- Move to an area that is still in relatively close proximity to the buildings where you have the majority of your classes. The farther you move away, the more likely you are to skip class.
- Moving out of a dorm can make it easier to skip class and party more. Don’t fall into this trap. Spend a little bit of time each day at the library to ensure you are keeping up with your schoolwork.
- Payment for dorms is usually all-inclusive. When you move into your own place, rent, utilities, Internet and television are all separate bills. Stay on top of your finances to avoid late fees or eviction.
- Get to know your neighbors, and always let them know when you are hosting a big event before it actually happens. At Occidental College, noise complaints constitute the largest number of off-campus police requests.