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How to Choose the Best College Housing Option (For Both On and Off-Campus)

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Do you ever wonder if you’ll be able to handle going away to college? Is your stress level stressing you out?

Every year, almost half of all college students drop out before they complete their degrees. That’s two million students who end up in debt without a diploma after four years.

The good news is that if you develop a few key skills, you can succeed in college and get that degree. Don’t worry: you’ve got this.

In this article, we’ll help you figure out if you’re ready to leave home and also help you make some important choices about your college housing.

Pop Quiz: Are You Ready to Go to College? 

When you think about leaving home, how do you feel? Are you psyched about the idea of being independent, or does it fill you with dread?

If you’re not 100 percent enthusiastic about going away to school, you do have several options:

  • Living at home for a year and working. You’ll be able to save money and develop your time management skills. Taking a gap year could help you mature and reflect on what you’d like to do with your life.
  • Taking classes online. You can live at home or move an apartment and scout around on the internet for free intro courses. You’ll save money and get a head start on your career.
  • Deciding on your major. Take a quiz online to see what kind of degree will help you succeed – before you sign that acceptance packet. Never go to college without knowing what you want to major in: it’s a huge time waster.
  • Volunteering locally. Find a business that you’d like to learn more about and sign up for a few shifts per month. If you can volunteer during high school, you’ll have a much better chance of getting into the college you want. Admissions officers love to find dedicated young adults with real-world experience.

On the other hand, you may be raring to go. You’re mature, you have good time management skills, and you know how to brew the perfect pot of coffee for study sessions.

If you’re ready to go away to college, you’ll have to make an important decision before you move. Do you want to live on-campus or off-campus?

On-Campus College Housing 

If you’re a social person, you should consider finding college student’s housing on campus. Living in a dorm can be hectic but in a fun way.

If you want to live with people who grew up in different cities and have different cultural backgrounds, dorm life is the way to go. You’ll be surrounded by interesting people with diverse academic interests.

In a dorm, you will always have someone to talk to and you’ll have a ready-made social circle. What better way to start a new chapter in your life?

More benefits of dorm life include:

  • Having an RA onsite. Every on-campus dorm has an RA or Resident Advisor. RAs are typically juniors or seniors who are responsible, compassionate, and great listeners. Having an RA to talk to can help you regulate stress during your first year away from home.
  • Becoming besties with your dormmates. You will definitely bond with the people who live in your dorm. Even at 2 am, there will always be someone in the common area who’s down for a quick game of Super Smash Bros.
  • Being close to campus. When you live in a dorm on-campus, all you have to do is roll out of bed and go to class. If you have FOMO (fear of missing out) then you’ll love having easy access to on-campus events.

If you’re not really into being surrounded by a lot of people, you might not want to live in a dorm. There are a few things about dorm life that can be tough:

  • Surviving a noisy environment. It’s all fun and games until your roommate decides to study until dawn while blasting their radio. If you have early morning classes and your roommate is a night owl, your grades could suffer.
  • Living in co-ed dormitories and sharing bathrooms. You should be able to sign up for an all-male or all-female dorm, but plenty of colleges are shifting toward co-ed arrangements. It’s not for everyone, and you should check out the dorm options before you sign up.
  • Moving all your stuff into storage every summer. The thing that most students don’t realize is that colleges close their dorms during the summer break and don’t usually provide storage. You may also need to leave your dorm during winter and spring break.

Off-Campus College Housing 

Dorm life isn’t for everyone, but there are other options. Colleges know that some students would prefer to live off-campus in private apartments. Here are the top three reasons you should live in your apartment:

  • Focusing and studying in a quiet space. You’ll have room to host a study session and you’ll be able to control the noise levels in your apartment. Pick a quiet roommate or two and you should be able to raise your GPA a few points without even trying too hard.
  • Enjoying a wide range of amenities. Off-campus apartments often have onsite gyms, common areas, and free wifi. Davisville Management Company, for example, has space for students to grill outside, study with friends, and go swimming.
  • Being able to work during the summer. If you have own apartment, you can stay on campus during summer vacation and get an internship or part-time job. That’s a great way to build up your resume before you graduate and help you launch your career.

Of course, the great on-campus vs off-campus debate has two sides. If you’re an extrovert, living in an off-campus apartment could make you feel isolated and depressed.

Here are a few more reasons why you may want to stick to living in a dorm:

  • Having access to a meal plan. Living in a dorm costs about $10,000 per year at a private college and usually comes with a meal plan. If you live on your own, you may not be able to buy into a meal plan. Do you want to cook every day?
  • Avoiding financial drama. What happens if you have an apartment and your roommate drops out of school? Will you be responsible for the entire cost of rent? Does financial aid cover off-campus housing in that situation?
  • Living in specialty dorms. When you live on campus, you have access to themed dorms. You might live with a group of students who are studying a particular language or who take part in sports teams. Living on campus could be great for your social life.

Pro Tips on Maintaining Your Mental Health 

No matter what decision you make about college housing, getting through college takes focus and patience. If you allow yourself to get stressed out and disorganized, you’re going to burn out after a year or two.

Take the time to pursue your interests outside of your studies. You might want to schedule a time to go to the local library one day and read some graphic novels.

You could also join a sports team or spend some time meditating every day. You’ll probably get enough exercise just walking around campus and getting to class, but you can also work out a few times per week.

If you’re not really into exercising, you can still spend time doing something simple: breathing. It sounds silly, but 15 minutes of deep breathing per day can perk you up and make it easier to follow through on your goals.

Just sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and count your breaths. Count backward from 10 to one and then repeat until you feel more relaxed.

As you focus on your mental health and well-being, you’ll be able to make more confident decisions. Most importantly, try to avoid people who are chaotic and overly dramatic.

You don’t have to become friends with everyone, and especially not with people who would try to drag you down. Stick to a few trusted friends and you’ll be much happier at college.

How to Get Through College in One Piece

If you’re not sure which kind of college housing you’d prefer, start with an off-campus apartment. It’s quieter and you’re still going to meet people.

If you find that you’re missing out on events, you can always move back into a dorm. The good news about these big decisions is that you can change them if you need to.

Getting through college is all about making important decisions about your major and your career. It’s also about developing good study habits and a commitment to hard work.

Most importantly, it’s about staying flexible. If you sign up for a major you don’t like, you can always change it. Likewise, your living situation doesn’t have to be written in stone.

Now that you know all about college housing, check out our other articles! We’ve got the lowdown on everything from how to survive finals to where you should go on winter break.

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