Whether you are living on campus now or thinking of going back, you know there are some serious downsides to living in university-owned housing.  Personally, I feel every student should live on campus at least one year (the first year typically works best).

We’ll get into the benefits of it later, but first let’s take a look at some of the negative things associated with living on campus in college.

Con #1: The Bad Roommate

bad roommate

If you don’t pick your roommate from high school or you do and simply don’t get along with them as well as you thought you would, you can easily wind up with a terrible roommate that you don’t get along with at all.  I had one my first year, but fortunately he was rarely around so I survived.

Possible solutions: Find a roommate yourself, someone that you know you like and can live with for a year (keeping in mind that no one is perfect).  If your university has the option, you can also try to be in a single room if you can afford the extra room and board fees.

Con #2: Community Bathrooms

They aren’t in every residence hall but most campuses have at least one hall that does have shared bathrooms/showers.  For those of you bearing this burden, you know the struggle is real.  I personally believe it is worse for the females than for the guys, but it certainly isn’t pleasant for anyone when you have an emergency and all the stalls are full.

Possible solutions: You can try to get into a residence hall that has private or semi-private bathrooms (where you share a bathroom with fewer people or just your roommate).  If that isn’t possible, you will get used to it and it isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Con #3: Rules, Rules, Rules

Visitation hours, no alcohol, quiet hours.  All those rules you get thrown at you at the first floor meeting of the year don’t exist off campus but they certainly are (and usually are enforced) in university housing.  It can actually be to your benefit, though, because you can develop good habits now before moving away and being on your own.

Possible solutions: Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do because you can’t really change the rules (though if there’s one you feel is unfair you can try to get it changed).  Depending on your RA (Resident Assistant), though, you may be able to get away with more than other students.  Just accept that you can’t do anything stupid and be thankful you still have someone sort of watching out for you!

Con #4: Limited Space

Whether you’re living with a roommate or in a single room, your space is going to be limited.  Residence hall rooms are known (infamously) for being small.  You won’t have as much as space as an apartment or house would offer you, but you can make the most of it.

Possible solutions: Make use of sites like Pinterest to find inspiration for laying out and decorating your dorm room so you can make the most of your space.  Leave some of your clothes at home in case you are limited on closet space.  You can even try lofting or bunking your beds if your roommate is okay with it.

With those cons in mind, you might be thinking you could never live on campus.  Don’t go away yet though, because there are benefits that I (and many others) feel outweigh the negatives!

Pro #1: Building Community

making friends in college

Especially in your first year, you won’t know many people outside of the ones you knew from high school which may not be anyone.  Living on campus with other first year students and sharing things like bathrooms and other common spaces forces you to meet new people, build your friend base and prepares you for the remaining college years to come.

Pro #2: Meal Availability

Living on campus means you can’t really cook for yourself, but that also means you have dining courts and multiple food options on campus with you that you can use.  Your room and board should include a meal plan and get you a set amount of meals to hopefully last you throughout the year.

These meals may not be the best like what you would get at home, but you can typically find something decent and healthy on campus.  It’s a lot easier than cooking for yourself as well.

Pro #3: Cheaper Housing/Dining Than Off Campus

If you just compare your room fees on campus with your potential rent off campus, it could easily seem to be cheaper to live off campus.  However, you also have to keep in mind that living off campus requires you to pay certain utilities like electricity, water, cable, internet, etc. that you have full access to on campus.

While you could do without cable and internet, it’s already a part of your cost on campus.  With all that (and other expenses like groceries and gas) in mind, living on campus is definitely the cheaper and likely easier option for most students.

Pro #4: Pseudo-Independent Lifestyle

As I mentioned before, living on campus means you have to follow rules.  While no one likes following a bunch of rules that may not even make sense, this does mean you have someone looking out for you.

If you’re concerned (or your parents are concerned) about you slacking off at college and not going to class or studying, you have hall staff on campus that can help you and keep you on track – while also offering you the independent lifestyle you so desperately want if you can handle it.

Some students will live on campus all through college, some only stay for one year.  Regardless of how long you stay, I do believe it is important to at least have one year in the residence halls before moving off campus and being completely on your own.

If nothing else, use that first year to meet potential roommates that you can live with off campus in the coming years as well as to set yourself up with strong habits that can help you succeed and go far, even after graduation.