If your school offers the choice between living in a dorm and living at home, maybe your first instinct is to stay at mom and dad’s. After all, it’s comfortable, they clean the place, all your stuff is there already, you don’t have to worry about moving or figuring out where to get food. Sounds pretty great, right?
Or maybe, if you’re going to college far from home, you’ve started thinking about getting an apartment rather than living in a dorm. Maybe you don’t like sharing your space. Maybe you really want to cook, and the dorms on campus don’t have kitchens. Maybe the idea of a communal bathroom gives you the creeps.
Of course finances play a role in any decision, and depending on where you’re going to school, it may be more or less expensive to live in a dorm vs. an apartment. But taking money out of the equation for a moment, the advantages of living in a dorm (at least for your freshman year) are overwhelming.
Socializing: meeting friends your first year in college can be difficult, regardless of whether you’re outgoing or shy. Living in a dorm automatically places you amongst other freshman who are all in the same boat as you. Sometimes you can even apply to live in housing with other students who share the same interests as you, automatically giving you something in common with a whole lot of people.
Easing the transition: You’re going to be adjusting to a whole new schedule, a new way of going to class, and the pressure is on. If you live on campus, you can often roll out of bed and get to class all within the span of ten minutes. The library is right there. The Writing or Math help center is right there. The counseling center is right there. Everything you need in terms of academic or emotional support from the university is a short walk away. If you’re commuting, these services are more difficult to access.
Studying: Living in the dorms on campus, it’s easy to find people to study with. It’s also easier to schedule study sessions with classmates who live in nearby dorms. Living on campus will also save you tons of time you would have spent commuting. The extra time will help your academic performance, and also help you feel less stressed out.
Independence: If you live in a dorm, away from home, you experience greater personal freedom and can start to find out who you are and learn to take care of yourself. The sense of pride that comes from slowly learning how to do things like laundry, cleaning, managing your time, not having to tell your parents where you are 24/7 – college is the time to learn how to do these things. And if you’re living in a dorm, you’re around other people who are going through the same learning experience. And who knows? Maybe you’ll form a new friendship with someone who’s as clueless as you are as to how to use that gigantic dryer.