Living on- vs. off-campus. There are benefits to both!
There are a number of decisions to make before pursuing an advanced degree. For example, you'll need to decide which institution suits you best, the kind of geographic location that is most desirable, the grants or scholarships you want to apply to and so on. One of the most consequential decisions that you will make, however, once you have decided where you will be studying, is the kind of accommodation you'll be living in.
Will you opt for off-campus housing, either in a nearby apartment or at home with your parents, or will you decide that the convenience of an on-campus home is just too good to pass up? There are no right or wrong decisions. There are clear benefits and drawbacks to each option, and one may suit you better than the other, contingent on your personality, needs and preferences.
Are you still struggling to make the decision? Below are some of the top benefits of each option:
The case for on-campus housing
1. Zero commute
Are you not a morning person? Is the prospect of getting up each morning at 6 a.m. for a long commute to campus simply terrifying? Well if that's you, one of the major benefits of living on campus is that there is little if any commute, Rutgers University explained. While it's true that on larger campuses you may have a short walk to class, that's nothing compared to the hassle and inconvenience that waiting for the train or getting stuck in traffic can present. The source also noted that the time you save by not commuting can be spent catching up on sleep or even completing some last-minute studying.
2. All inclusive
Although generally more expensive, on-campus housing is convenient in that it's usually all-inclusive, the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted. Internet, heat, air, electricity, water and so on are typically included, so you won't have the hassle of keeping track of and paying monthly bills. All you'll have to worry about is your studies!
"Students who live on campus tend to perform better academically."
3. Higher grades
As discussed, by removing commuting times from your schedule you'll likely find that you have more time to study. According to Rutgers, that extra time — and convenient location near the library — means that students who live on campus tend to perform better academically on average than those who opt to live elsewhere. The source noted that this is also likely because you'll have a greater chance of meeting and socializing with other students in your class, which can bolster academic performance.
Sure, you're not an undergraduate student anymore, but studying for a master's or PhD is still about more than just studying. By getting truly involved in your campus community you'll likely find yourself less stressed, more productive and more involved with college life. Living on campus makes it much easier to enjoy the many facets of college life, UCSC argued.
5. More secure
Virtually all universities will have an on-campus police force, especially those in urban areas. Having the police close by can add an extra sense of safety and security, UCSC detailed. Furthermore, there are usually residential life staff members on campus to help you resolve any problems or disputes that may arise while living in an on-campus apartment.
The case for off-campus housing
1. Better eats
While living on campus may provide you with the ease and convenience of a meal plan, it's common knowledge that it's healthier and usually more cost-effective to prepare a meal at home. Living off campus means that you'll have access to your own kitchen and won't have to head over to the dining hall or wait in line for the communal kitchen in your dorm building, the State University of New York said.
2. More adult
Let's face it, you're in graduate school, so you're likely a little more mature than the undergraduates on campus and your first thought on a Saturday night might not necessarily be to head to the nearest party. While there are usually specific dorms for graduate students, simply being on campus can be a distraction, especially on the weekends. Living off campus, in your own place, is arguably more adult and conducive to a more mature lifestyle. This is especially true considering that, as SUNY pointed out, you'll likely have to take on a number of adult responsibilities, such as signing a lease, dealing with a landlord, staying on top of bills and so on.
3. Peace and quiet
As mentioned above, on-campus dorms can be noisy, whether that's due to partying, loud conversations, music playing, etc. This can end up being a nightmare if you're the kind of person that enjoys studying in peace and quiet. Living off campus is therefore generally a better option for those who do not enjoy too much noise. With that said, some off-campus neighborhoods can be equally as noisy, particularly those that have high student populations. Before you select your off-campus apartment, be sure to research the neighborhood beforehand and ask questions about your neighbors.
Obviously this depends on the size of the off-campus apartment you rent and the city or town in which it is located. But generally speaking, off-campus housing can be cheaper than on-campus dorms, usually because on-campus dorms are all inclusive, as mentioned above. Better yet, if you opt to live with your parents, the cost could end up being even lower still! Of course, keep in mind that what you save in rent may end up going toward commuting costs.
5. More options
There are usually far fewer on-campus graduate housing options available — most on-campus apartments are reserved for undergraduate students. This means that if you want to secure a place on-campus you'll have to move fast, and there is a good chance you won't be successful, the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students cautioned. If you make the decision to live off campus, however, you'll have more choice in terms of the number of apartments available and you'll be able to make a final decision much closer to the lease start date. The source noted that most landlords look to sign leases two to three months in advance of move-in day.