Opinion | Off-campus housing puts dorms to shame


James Hoeck

Evening view on Sunday of the Midtown Plaza apartment building alongside Boneyard Creek. Columnist Daniel Kibler writes on the benefits of off-campus living as compared to university living.

By Dan Kibler, Columnist

While living on campus may feel satisfying at first, off-campus housing far surpasses what residence halls offer.

Being young and away from your parents for the first time, surrounded by people your age, leads to some good times. Many people’s fondest memories of college revolve around freshman dorm mischief.

But if we are being serious, once the luster of freshman dorm life wears off, every sane person is ready to move into their own housing like a real person. This shows why off-campus housing is superior.

Let’s look at the advantages of dorm life. One definite advantage is how quickly you meet people in the confined spaces of a dorm. Whether it’s in the bathroom or the lounge, you tend to run into the same people constantly, which leads to friendship.

Another pro to residence halls is that dorm food sometimes just hits the spot. Ever been to barbecue night at the Ikenberry Dining Hall? Good times. Barbecue aside, access to the dining hall can be extremely convenient in general.

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    That’s where the advantages ends.

    Let’s face it, living like sardines with a bunch of other people kind of blows. You share a bathroom with dozens of other people, and unless you get lucky, you’re living in a tiny room with someone else. You have next to no privacy.

    Lack of privacy is a prevalent issue with on-campus living. The walls separating your dorm from your neighbors’ are paper thin. Got an exam at 8 a.m. tomorrow? Sorry, your neighbor just got back from a rush event and feels like having a sick post-game at 2 a.m. with six other people.

    The room size is also a major problem. It’s very easy to go stir-crazy in a room that resembles a closet. There’s also not much room for personal items or decorations that will make the closet feel like home.

    Illness spreads like wildfire. Once somebody has a virus of any kind on your floor, everybody will end up getting it. It’s just a matter of time. Sharing bathrooms and touching the same door knobs with 40 people tends to do that.

    Since living in glorified army barracks is unappealing to most people, switching to apartment life is a natural part of a college student’s maturation.

    College is a time of growth and change in the lives of young people, with many “firsts” in their lives. Many will experience their first time away from their parents, first real relationships and first professional work experiences.

    This being said, college also is normally the first time most people learn to live on their own. This means doing your own laundry, cooking your own food and cleaning your own living areas.

    Living in an off-campus apartment is the time when people learn to support themselves. It’s imperative that people learn these life skills before they start their careers and real lives. Residence halls only delay this necessary growth period.

    However, off-campus housing involves much more than boring adult stuff. 

    Apartments are also spacious enough to support actual gatherings. This is a much better alternative to having to awkwardly cram all of your friends into a closet-sized dorm while sitting on whatever beds or ottomans are available.

    Access to a real kitchen is a big deal as well. Dorm food, as good as it sometimes is, can make you pack on pounds. The freshman 15 is a real thing. Access to a kitchen enables you to learn how to cook food that is healthy, which is a life skill everybody needs.

    Lastly, not only do dorms function like prisons, they often look like prisons — beige, dull and boring. However, with a space that is totally yours, you are allowed to customize it to a much greater degree than dorms allow. Similarly, off-campus housing lets you choose what your surroundings are — access to balconies and windows is a plus.

    Let’s not kid ourselves: On-campus housing isn’t that great. Every student currently stuck in a dorm is simply waiting until they can move out of that musty dorm and live off campus. It’s just a fact of life.


    Daniel is a senior in LAS.

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