Breaking Down the Pros and Cons of On-Campus Living

According to The Washington Post, at least 87 colleges and universities in the United States require all first-year students enrolled full-time to live on campus.

While most of these institutions are private, some are state schools.

You can choose to live on campus even if the college doesn’t require it.

Of course, you need to consider the cost.

On-campus living is typically more expensive than off-campus living — at private non-profit institutions, the Education Data Initiative says, the average difference in cost is over $1,750 per year.

Homesickness, which can impact your academic performance and mental health, is a consideration, too.

However, there are also perks to enjoy.

Studies show that students who live on campus have higher GPAs, better extracurricular and campus activity participation, and more opportunities to make friends and build a network.

Living in a residence hall also gives the complete college experience.

Whether or not residing on campus can benefit you as an undergraduate will depend on various factors, including your finances, academic goals, and social and lifestyle preferences.

Considering the pros and cons of living on campus carefully is a definite must.

Living on campus

On-Campus Living is Instrumental to Academic Success

Most of the perks of living on campus can help you graduate.

Numerous reasons to live on campus lists put academic success at the top, and various studies back it up.

For instance, the Office of Budget, Planning, and Institutional Research at the University of Connecticut says that first-years who choose to reside on campus perform better academically than their off-campus and commuting peers.

Whether required or of your own accord, on-campus living comes with various benefits.

Always on Time

Living in student housing means you are just a short walk away from the classroom.

In fact, you’re just a short walk away from everything — library, practical lab, cafeteria, bookstore, etc.

Without the need to commute, you can save time and avoid the embarrassment of interrupting the flow of discussion and distracting your classmates by coming late to class.

Better Social Life

Transitioning from secondary to postsecondary school can be hard for many first-year students.

It can cause some to isolate themselves and suffer from anxiety and depression.

Living on campus can help facilitate the transition for the opportunity to make new friends in the community is always there — you don’t have to miss everyone back home as much if you have peers who cheer you up.

Improved Study Habits

You can boost your academic achievement by having the proper study habits.

Unfortunately, college is a completely different world from high school, and some freshmen students may struggle with adjusting their study habits as necessary to cope with a more rigorous learning environment.

Residence halls are great venues for group study and a source of excellent study skills and approaches.

Additional Resources

In many circumstances, on-campus residents can access exclusive resources that off-campus residents can’t.

For instance, at New York University where on-campus living is optional, there are residence life programs that create a greater sense of connection between residents and the faculty and staff members.

There are also mixers, retreats, and workshops for on-campus residents.

Leadership Opportunities

Leadership skills can help college students conquer challenges on campus and develop transferrable skills that will be beneficial when it’s time for an internship or employment.

On-campus living provides an array of opportunities to take on leadership roles.

For instance, you may apply as a resident assistant (RA) or run for student hall council.

RA (Resident Assistant)

Develop a Sense of Responsibility

Besides leadership skills, residing on campus also lets you have a personal sense of responsibility.

With none of your parents watching your every move, you have to exercise self-control and do your best to make the right choices because you are fully accountable for your actions.

It’s good practice for making wise decisions after college as you attempt to achieve your career goals.

Likelier to Stay in School

On-campus living can make it more likely for you to complete your undergraduate education.

According to the Office of Student Affairs Assessment and Research at the University of Florida, first-year students living on campus have significantly higher chances of returning the following semester than their off-campus peers.

It adds that they also have significantly higher chances of returning the following academic year.

On-Campus Living Can Be Off-Putting, Too

The consensus is that on-campus residents are more likely to reap academic success.

However, not everyone agrees.

According to the American Journal of Business Education, some studies found no evidence that living on campus positively affects a student’s academic performance.

While you may like many of the perks of on-campus living, the downsides are also worth noting.

Steep Cost

After tuition and fees, room and board is often the single most expensive cost of college.

Business Insider says that the cost of on-campus residence and meals is increasing faster than tuition, thus causing college students to graduate with even more educational debt.

Look into your financial aid options and budget before deciding to live on housing on campus.


US News says that around 30% of all undergraduate students and about 70% of all first-year students experience homesickness, especially during the first few months of being far away from home.

While it can decrease after the first semester, its persistence can still vary from student to student.

Homesickness can reduce academic ability and may even cause some to drop out of college.

Distraction and Conflicts

Noisy dorms are one of the reasons why up to 60% of college students are sleep-deprived.

Poor sleep can cause depression, irritability, confusion, and reduced life satisfaction.

Having a bad roommate can cause daily conflicts, which can negatively impact not only the mental health of students but also their academic performance and overall college experience, especially dorm living.

Noisy campus

Limited Privacy

Dorm rooms with their own bathrooms are rare — most residence halls have communal bathrooms.

It’s not just the bathroom you may have to share but usually everything else, from the kitchen to the laundry facility.

College officials estimate that around 60% of students applying for room and board have never shared a bedroom, and having strangers for roommates may leave them feeling they have zero privacy.

Reduced Independence

Many first-year students are excited to live an independent life for the first time.

Unfortunately, most on-campus dwellers must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the college.

Some may feel that strict residence hall policies like curfews, restrictions on personalizing their rooms, and visitation agreements may inhibit their personal growth and hinder the college experience.

Read Next: What to Bring to a College Dorm: Full List

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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