You may have imagined your college experience would include lugging your shower caddy down the hall and burning Easy Mac in the communal kitchens, but have you ever considered ditching the dorm scene altogether? You may think living at home for college means missing out on the “typical college experience,” but commuting is a potentially viable option for students attending a community college or a nearby four-year college or university. Read on for some pros and cons of living at home as well as tips for commuting students.
Pros of Living at Home
It Saves Money
Living at home can save you thousands of dollars you would have otherwise spent on on-campus housing. When you’re a commuter, you can also probably skip the expensive dining hall meal plans that wouldn’t live up to your mom’s cooking anyway. Since living at home cuts your college costs down, you’ll have less debt and more money for textbooks and fun!
“Living at home, I'm able to save all of my money for when I graduate and move out, which is a big plus,” says Gabrielle Sorto, a sophomore at Georgia State University. “I have friends that have taken out so many loans to live at school, and it's just putting them in so much more debt. [I have] other friends who work a job and all of their money goes to rent. “
You’ll Be Closer to Your Family
If you consider yourself extremely family-oriented, commuting may be the way to go. A lot of students who want or require the presence and support of their family might go with the option of living at home. This way, your family can be there to help you through your transition into college.
You Won’t Have Dorm Distractions
Dorm life is a great experience, but it can also take a toll on you. Living in a dorm means living in one building full of students who are all the same age as you, which may sound fun, but can get tiring. Residence halls can be full of distractions, and it’s probably easier to find a nice, quiet place to study in the comfort of your own home.
It Can Be an Escape
Though it may seem like a tedious trek to get to campus (depending on how far away you live), you might end up feeling thankful for your slight separation from school. Having where you live distanced from your academic environment can ease the stress college can bring. Living at home allows you to have a life away from school and your group of college friends.
You Won’t Have Roommate Troubles
You’ve probably heard horror stories about terrible roommates, but commuters won’t have to deal with that! Of course, not every roommate is a bad one, but if you’re living in your own room at home, you don’t even have to risk it. If you have your own room, you don’t have to be conscious of respecting others’ privacy or belongings; you only have to focus on yourself!
You Won’t Deal With the Maintenance of Living on Your Own
If you choose to stay at home, you probably won’t even have to think about food, laundry or buying toilet paper on the reg. Students living in the dorms are usually required to purchase a meal plan (or recommended to, as they may not have access to a kitchen), lug their laundry around and buy those little things you never really think about, like toilet paper and hand soap.
“I love living off campus because you get your own room [and] a kitchen to cook in, and you don't have room advisers to check in on you all the time,” says Jessica Kavanagh, a sophomore at Monmouth University. Consider yourself responsibility-free from these little tedious tasks and extras that come along with on-campus housing!
Cons of Living at Home
You’ll Have Limited Freedom
A lot of high school students look forward to college because of the complete freedom and independence you get, which usually comes with the fact that you aren’t living with your parents anymore. Unfortunately, living at home can mean less of that freedom. Your parents may still want you to do the dishes every day and make sure you’re home by 11.
How to Deal: Set some basic rules with your family.
Since you’ve probably lived with your family for the past 17 or 18 years, they may think that nothing’s going to change. However, you’ll be dealing with harder academics and a more complex social life. Sit down with your parents and develop a system with them that respects both your freedom and their home. Lay down a curfew, chore schedule and any sort of other responsibilities your parents want you to have. Just make sure it’s both fair to you and them. You don’t want them to baby you, but remember that you’re living under their roof!
You’ll Miss Opportunities
A lot of students are turned off by the idea of living at home because of their fear of missing out on university events and activities. “What I don't like about living at home is that I don't get to experience living at college since I'm at a community college,” says Giovanna Graziano, a sophomore at Ocean County College.
Most of your school’s events will be held on campus, so they won’t be as easy to access if you’re constantly driving back and forth from home.
How to Deal: Spend a lot of time on campus.
To compensate for not living on campus, spend extra time studying on campus, working out at the school gym and staying after classes for school events. “You really have to put yourself out there more to make friends and put in the effort to spend time on campus,” Gabrielle says. “Try to spend as much time there and get involved in things on campus so that you can make friends.”
Your Social Life May Be Limited
One of the best parts about living on campus is the fact that you’re often living with your friends. Even if you’re not in the same room, perhaps not even the same building, you’re probably no more than a 20-minute walk from your best friend. If you live at home during your time at college, you may be feeling like you’re missing out on plans.
How to deal: Join clubs or sports teams.
Even if you’re not an off-campus student, clubs and organizations are one of the best ways to meet other people at school. Consider joining a sports team, a sorority or any other organization you find interesting!
Your living situation is a critical part of your college experience, so make sure you’re making the right choice! Think about what’s most important to you, and once you make your decision, make the most of it!