Regardless of which subject area you plan to pursue in college, the living arrangements you choose can make a big difference in your academic success. Generally speaking, you have two main options: living in the dorms or getting an apartment of your own. Both can work depending on your personal needs.
Pros and Cons of Dorms v. An Apartment
At first glance, room and board in an apartment can seem cheaper than living in a dorm. When you factor in the purchase of furniture for an apartment, however, the cost can equalize. Apartment costs also can creep up to the cost of dorm living when you tally the expense of Internet, trash, heat, electricity and other services. (Note: we found these typical college expenses to be real money wasters.) The caveat here is that, if you choose to have one or more roommates in an apartment, you might come out ahead financially by splitting the cost of rent and other costs. Go to this site for more information on current apartment rent rates in the UK.
If you live in the dorms, you might not need to have a car on campus. If you do, though, you’ll probably have parking permit fees to cover. If you opt for an apartment, you’ll need to allow extra room in your budget for the gas necessary for your commute.
Lastly, think about food. Colleges often require dorm residents to purchase a meal plan, which tends to be overly inflated in price. With an apartment, you’ll need to prepare your meals on your own, but you’ll have more control over and variety in what you eat, which can contribute to better health and weight management.
Dorm residents must abide by general, building-wide rules regarding visitors, noise and treatment of community property. In this way, dorm living isn’t any different than having a lease at an apartment. However, apartments usually offer more privacy and space, which can result in the feeling of more freedom. For example, in an apartment, you can prepare a meal any time you like, whereas in the dorm, you may only be able to visit your cafeteria within specified hours of operation. There is more room to decorate and organize how you please, as well.
Depending on which complex you select, an apartment can provide a huge range of amenities that can make your college experience easier and more enjoyable. For instance, you might have a washer and dryer right in your unit, fitness center, a complete set of full-size appliances and indoor/underground parking that’s more secure. A dorm room is much more basic, usually offering only a desk, chair and bed to each resident. If the college does provide other options like a pool, they might be all the way across campus in another building. Of course, you must consider your habits and standard of living here. If you like to do your laundry at home while you study or get other work done, for instance, then an apartment might make more sense than a dorm where you have to take everything to a laundry room or Laundromat.
The majority of colleges feature fairly small rooms in their dormitories–a typical apartment bedroom can be double the size of a dorm bedroom. On many campuses, dorm residents also have to share the bedroom they have. Like dorms, apartments usually have a common living room, but apartments also typically have their own kitchens and, sometimes, laundry rooms and dens. This doesn’t automatically mean that an apartment will be quieter or less disruptive to your study, but most apartments at least provide the option to go into a separate space to get away from other activity roommates might be engaging in.
With dorms, you usually do not get to pick the people you live with, although college administrators do their best to pair students with similar interests and goals. Getting a bedroom to yourself is the exception rather than the rule. If you get an apartment, you’re not obligated to have a roommate at all, although you certainly may if you wish. If you opt for a roommate, you can screen potential candidates yourself to reduce the odds you and your housemate clash. Something else to consider is that, in general, apartments provide the opportunity to meet people from many different demographics–parents, singles, older residents, kids, workers, students and more. In a dorm, you’ll likely only be able to live with and meet students.
Dormitories and apartments both are viable options when you are looking for college housing. Each choice has its own idiosyncrasies, so you don’t necessarily have to be swayed by what other students happen to pick. Choose whatever is right for you given your preferences, budget and academic objectives.