Living on campus vs. off campus

Approaching the end of their first year here at Sam Houston State University, most students find themselves facing the evergreen question: to live on campus, or not?

If you have parents like mine, they would be confused by this question seeing as when they attended college in the 1980s, living on campus for the entire four years was a given. Rarely anyone lived off campus—at least as undergrads.

However, in today’s college community, it’s easy to see a multitude of students living in residence halls, apartments, townhouses, duplexes and even renting small homes of their own.

That being said, as with any life decision, pros and cons must be considered—and deciding where you’re going to live for an entire year (or six to nine months depending on your lease) definitely falls under that category.

At SHSU, students are required to live on-campus during their first year of attendance—unless there are extenuating circumstances involved. This means that the majority of students have experienced the epitomical college dorm life complete with extra-long twin beds and suitemates either to your delight or dismay.

Depending on your residence hall’s respective floor plan, you could be faced with a variety of issues—one being four girls attempting to straighten their hair, apply makeup and shower in the same bathroom, all in the same time frame. Unless you have really flexible, understanding and organized suitemates who are willing to develop a daily showering schedule, facing this issue on a regular basis is entirely plausible.

From the apartment perspective, most floor plans allow for each tenant to have their own personal bathroom alleviating this problem, while leaving each roommate to clean, utilize and clutter up their respective restroom.

Another issue to be addressed is roommate privacy. While SHSU does have some residence halls which offer individual bedrooms with a common living area and bathroom like Sam Houston Village or Bearkat Village, many on-campus floor plans don’t offer this luxury. While you may never find yourself lonely in this position, it can cause friendship rifts and other problems related to personal space and privacy.

As with the bathroom dilemma, many off-campus housing options fix this problem as most offer one-bedroom-per-tenant options. This allows you to not only live with others to help cheapen the rent, but simultaneously allows you to shut and lock your bedroom door when you’re fed up with them.

One strength of living on-campus however is definitely the fact that it is ON campus—especially with the current parking predicament plaguing SHSU. The ability to easily walk to and from class and your residence hall in less than 10 minutes, although not ideal under certain weather conditions, is definitely an added bonus to not having to fight to the death for a parking spot.

While many off-campus living options do not grant this ease of accessibility, many of the apartment complexes on the outskirts of town offer buses which travel to and from campus throughout the day to aid students who either don’t have vehicles or do and just want to avoid circling the parking lots for half an hour.

Another benefit of on-campus living is that, that usually also means having a meal plan. Although you may or may not like some of the food options on campus, if you’re on campus more than you’re at home like I am, not having to spend your money out-of-pocket on a daily basis is really nice and actually allows you to eat at normal times throughout the day.

At apartments, while you do have access to full kitchens and can actually cook and bake your own food, again, if you’re like me you maybe get to the grocery story every couple of weeks, can’t cook as it is and end up living off Lunchables and boxes of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese.

Having to answer to a residence hall advisor however, is not one of the perks of living on-campus. Although they are there for safety precautions and to help ease students into the college scene, post-high school students don’t want to adhere to curfews or other arbitrary rules.

Although landlords and maintenance workers can sometimes seem like intrusive RA’s, rules at off-campus housing options are far less restrictive and if they’re honest, they only enter your apartment following a notification.

Although I know there are many other pros and cons to weigh before deciding on a living situation which best suits your needs, these are the main priorities that came to my own mind when making my decisions.

So with the lease-signing season approaching, start your pro-con lists taking into consideration the few issues I have addressed and begin figuring out what matters most to you.


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