As of 2013, with almost fourteen and a half million students enrolled in undergraduate programs in the United States, colleges and universities are offering more diverse opportunities for students, as ways to attract students and compete against their peer institutions. For college students today, this means the college hunt is even more important than others–what does University A offer that University B does not? For many students, the student housing programs colleges and universities offer can be of particular interest. Most colleges require that at least freshman stay on-campus–that is, in the residence halls they provide. However, some colleges will allow students off-campus housing as early as sophomore year, while others reserve off campus student housing as a privilege for upperclassmen. In some cases, on-campus housing may be the most cost-effective, especially if the surrounding area is expensive, like in San Francisco or other big cities.
What Are Different Types of Student Housing Programs?
The three most common options are living on-campus in residence halls, living on-campus in furnished apartments, and living off-campus, renting an apartment or house.
What are the Pros and Cons of Each?
Residence hall are the quintessential college experience. They’re designed to allow students to interact and really get to know each other, with residence assistants providing activities and games to bring the residents together. This type of room also comes with a meal plan, so students can simply go to dining halls or other eating facilities for meals. However, the rooms tend to be smaller and more restrictive in terms of rules residents must follow, but it’s a good set-up for first year students.
On-Campus Furnished Apartments
This variation of student housing programs allows students a little more freedom (many upperclassmen choose this if they don’t want to move off campus completely), while still allowing the student meal plan, easy access to campus, free utilities and Internet, as well as cleaning services. The resident assistants serve in a much more informal capacity here and students have a bit more freedom in terms of the rules. This type of housing is also generally restricted towards upperclassmen.
Off Campus Housing
Off campus housing is often preferred because of the extra privacy. Students are allowed their own space, without campus rules (although they must adhere to town rules) and are more independent, cooking their own meals, paying utilities and Internet, and signing the lease. It’s a good chance for upperclassmen to edge into the “real” world, while still cushioned by their friends and a smaller environment. It often also costs less than on campus housing. Students will want to consider the quality of the apartment or house they rent, however, because student rentals can often be in bad condition or not kept up well, depending on the landlord. Extra costs (security deposits, maintenance fees, etc.,) will also need to be considered in the final cost.
In short, having a back up plan for student housing is always a good idea, especially if the campus is overcrowded and on campus housing fills up too quickly. Look at the options your college offers and decide what will be best for you.