At the University of Minnesota, 90% of first-year students live on-campus. But after that, many of them choose to live off-campus in apartments/houses. As I lived in both on-campus and off-campus housing, I would like to share pros and cons of both kinds of living.
First, I would go with the good about on-campus housing, which off-campus housing cannot provide. It is undoubtedly best for first-year students. After living on-campus my first year, I understood why students who are coming to the United States should reside in campus dorms in the beginning. The top most reason being a smooth transition to a new environment. In layman terms, on-campus housing makes you feel like you are living in a cocoon of safety. There are many small and big things that makes it possible. Some of them are the presence of a Community Advisor (whom you can approach easily for almost anything, whether it be academic stress, vague doubts regarding the campus and community, a wish of doing something fun, etc.), ease of eating food using meal plans, commuting to campus (using campus buses), having fellow students around who are in a same spot as you (this helps making friends and contacts WAY EASIER). The on-campus housing lets you focus on your social and academic life while they take care of the rest. You do not need to worry about bills or irregular managers or staff (campus staff is the best!). Sometimes dealing with those things can be a real time-consumer (depending upon how good the apartment community is and how good the manager is). When I lived off-campus in my second and third year off college, I was bummed about certain facilities provided in the apartments I lived, which could a real pain at times.
However, as these things might be a boon for students in their first year, being dependent on university housing for all years of college does not let students explore more and indulge in a life beyond college while studying. It restricts you a little to grow as a person who will, after graduation, live in the society, solely because we are ‘students’ for the university and we are living in that ‘safety cocoon’ while living on-campus. Some students tend to become biased about the food in residence halls (but believe me, it’s all based on what food you like to eat, and the university tries to be as diversified as possible in their food options). Living off-campus mostly gives you an edge of having a stove of yours where you can cook what you like every day (the university does have some apartment-like buildings like Radius Apartments and University Village, and that eliminates this problem). In my opinion, getting out of the universities’ cocoon is a must to become aware of the outside world as it made me understand small aspects of running a household, whether it be buying groceries, learning about leasing and rentals etc.
I have lived in both kinds of environment and I must add that for my final year in the university I am going back to on-campus dorms (I loved the community involvement and I think I am pretty much done with apartment life before my college life ends). Moral of the story, on-campus housing makes you feel you are a college student because of certain key factors, however off-campus housing gives you the freedom to run your routine completely on your decisions. Both sides have some ups and some downs but in the end, you are the one to decide what you want for yourself. College life is a time of vast opportunities, residence being one of those vast areas of opportunity. Choose wisely.