When I went off to college in my freshman year, the first place I entered was my dorm. Everything was new and exciting to me. I ended up living on campus for three years and moved into an apartment during my senior year. Recently, my sister and I were discussing whether she should choose to continue to live on campus or get an apartment, so I thought I would share my experience of both.
As a new student, living on campus provided lots of opportunities for socialization. Floor meetings, ice cream social and many other activities among dorms. Unfortunately, I wasn't someone who was involved in most things, but I've seen people from my floor or my building make friends through these events, and they ended up being roommates or suitemates for the rest of their school years. As for my own, though I didn't actively participate in most things unless is mandatory, I still met a bunch of people through other ways and was able to know then better because we lived so close. One of the girls who was in my public speaking class was actually my next door neighbor. Before each presentation, we would go to one or another's room and help each other practice.
The convenience was another plus for living on campus. I loved how my dorm is close to all the lecture halls, dining halls, library, and learning center. Sometime when I had a longer break in between my classes, I would even go back to my room to catch a quick nap. Laundry was definitely another thing that was convenient for me. Although there were times that I couldn't find an empty washer or dryer when I needed one, I still appreciate having easy access to the laundry room. Maintenance and security were also the perks of living on campus.
The biggest downside of living in dorms, for me, was having to share everything. I not only had to share the bedroom with a roommate but also the bathroom with 6+ people. Also, my first RA told me her experience that the fire alarm went off when she was in the middle of showering during winter time, so she had to evacuate the building in a towel. And this became my biggest fear while I was living on campus.
I finally moved out of dorms and lived off campus for my last year of college. I got my own bedroom and only had to share everything with one other person. It was a nice change after spending so many years in dorms, and I really wish I had done it sooner! When getting an apartment, I've done lots of research beforehand. Things you need to know and decide could be as simple as which apartment are you getting or how many people do you want to live with? Luckily, these were the questions I already had the answers. My roommate and I quickly scheduled the tour with the landlord. And once we made sure everything was okay, we signed the lease and paid the deposit right away.
Before moving in, an important thing for me to do was set up utilities. I'm sure everyone would love to have electricity and Internet to use in the apartment, and so did I. But having everything up and running was not the end. I also had to remember to pay my bills every month. Other than that, if I need to have anything fixed or cleaned, I would need to contact the landlord or do it myself. I couldn't just run down the hallway and talk to the RAs and had everything gets done. This was very different from living in dorms, where you pretty much had everything taken care of for you. Although this seemed like a downside of living off campus, I actually enjoyed being able to handle all these things that during that time. The real downside to me, though, was the coin washer/dryer and the distance to my classes. Also, since we got a kitchen and didn't have the meal plan anymore, I have to cook more. Getting grocery would be another problem for me, considering that I didn't have a car.
I appreciate my experience both living on and off campus. Although there seemed to be more advantages of living in dorms, I still prefer living off campus just because having my personal space is very important to me. Honestly, I didn't really feel any inconvenience while I was living in dorms (I still lived there for three years, so). But once I moved into an apartment, I realized that it's gonna be impossible for me to share a room with someone else again.
No matter where you choose to live, whether is on or off campus, the most important thing is to remember to respect the others you're living with, so no one would be the terrible roommate who makes college a bad experience.