To live on campus or not, that is the...

To live on campus or not, that is the question

by Gale Blaylock

Do you enjoy meeting new people? How do you feel about studying with them – or even sharing your kitchen and shower with them? Welcome to the reality of resident student life.  Like many Canadian students on their way to attending college or university this year, you may be considering moving on campus for the convenience of being steps away from your classes and most importantly for a ‘richer’ student experience.

Although you might have good reasons for wanting to move on campus, resident student life is not for everyone and making an informed choice is imperative in ensuring you’ve made the right choice for your own peace of mind.  “You have to be flexible and realize you will be around other people to make this work” says Fern Moran, former British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and University of Winnipeg (U of W) resident student. “Talking [with your roommates] about the things that come up without judgment is what makes it a good experience for everyone. If you’re not willing to do that, campus living is probably not for you”.  Although you will have less space and less privacy in a dorm vs. living on your own, one of the upsides is that it’s easier to get more involved and build a greater sense of community for yourself and your peers.  “Living on campus allowed me to participate in two campus clubs at BCIT that I would not likely have done if I were not living on campus. The same applied at U of W where I was part of a group that founded what became a faculty student association” says Moran. 

Other than the obvious social aspects you need to also think about your finances. Which option is cheaper? Generally speaking, living on campus usually ends up being less costly than if you were living on your own, especially if a meal plan and daily cleaning service is included (one or the other usually are).  If you stay at home with your parents and are not asked to fork over any rent then your cheapest option would be to live off campus.  “Living with my parents…gives me more opportunity to save money and travel” says Simon Fraser University student Branka Parenta, 23. But if staying at home is not an option you can find out if you’re eligible for subsidized housing for students through your school or government social services. 

As a young person who fiercely values their privacy and are seeking a greater degree of independence – and can afford it, you would be better off finding an apartment close to school on your own or with a roommate. But keep in mind that along with the hassle of initially having to look for a place, you’ll also have to worry about setting up your place (eg. study area, other furniture) and keeping up with parking, rent, utilities, cable and internet payments –  just to name a few.  All of these factors must be considered along with the degree of involvement you’re comfortable with. Also thinking about what sacrifices you are willing to make in that regard will help you determine if living on campus is right for you.

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