The Pros & Cons of Commuting vs. Living On Campus (2023)

While starting college, one of the most important things is your living situation. For many college students, living on campus is a “no-brainer’, as it is what the majority of students do and is essentially a “standard” of the college experience. According to The College Board, 40 percent of full-time college students at public universities and 64 percent at private universities live on-campus. That means the rest of the full-time students live either off-campus or with their parents.

There is no right or wrong way to go to college and this especially applies to your living situation. A multitude of different factors can affect your living situation, between academic years or even semesters. Living on campus isn’t better than living at home and vice versa, rather, each situation depends solely on you.

Sometimes, being a first-gen/low-income college student can mean having limited resources regarding the best living situation for your specific circumstances. I know that when I was researching and applying for colleges, I felt like I just had to do what everyone else did. My freshman year I lived in a dorm, sophomore year lived in an off-campus apartment, and the remaining two years lived at home with my parents. Because I had limited resources on college living situations, I feel like it’s important to share what I know to other first-gen/low-income students. Here’s a helpful pro/con guide to living at home vs. on campus that will help guide you in your process!

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Living on Campus

I lived on campus for the entirety of my freshman year and sophomore year. During my time living on campus, I had a really fun time exploring campus, making new friends, and getting a fresh feel of being independent. There were many things that happened while living on campus that shaped me and taught me a lot about who I am and what I wanted. Just like living at home/commuting, living on campus has both its perks and disadvantages.


Zero Commute Time: No worrying about train times, parking spots, traffic, etc. The only thing you have to worry about is snagging a seat in your lecture hall! When you don’t have to get up early and make a commute to your classes, actually making the trip to your small seminar or lecture doesn’t seem too bad.

(Video) Being a Commuter at University | Benefits Vs Disadvantages

Greater Access to On-Campus Resources:Instead of scheduling a phone call or corresponding via email, you can arrange a face-to-face meeting with professors, advisors, etc. Having the personal connection with advisors can help build your confidence and give you a better understanding of what you’re trying to solve/figure out.

Socializing Comes Naturally: When living on campus, you don’t have to worry about missing the train home or rushing to get in your car to beat rush hour traffic after class. Instead, you can hang out on campus, chat with classmates and grab a bite to eat. Socializing is more natural and easier when you don’t have other worries clouding your mind!

Going to Parties/Campus Events is Easy: During my last two years of college, I felt like a bit of an outsider and wished that I could have the ability to go to more campus events. Sure, I was only a train ride away but that train ride was an hour to and from campus and a 30-minute drive to and from home. Sometimes it just felt like it wasn’t worth it.

When living on campus, this isn’t something you have to worry about! You have better accessibility to fun events football games, homecoming events, organization/club meetings, concerts, etc. which can make you feel more integrated into the school community, another benefit!


Distance from Home/Getting Homesick: I’m not going to lie, when I was having loads of fun living on campus, there were still points where I felt homesick. Sometimes you need to escape and decompress from the college culture get back home where you feel safe and comfortable. Maybe you are having a rough day and the only thing that you know will cheer you up is your mom’s famous soup and a cuddle from the family pet.

(Video) Living on Campus or Commuting to College - Comparing the Good and Bad of Both and the Cost

Of course, no one can have this all the time, but when you’re in college (and perhaps away from home for the first time), these little things matter the most.While living on campus, being away from home can be difficult, especially depending on your location and access to adequate transportation. I had friends who had to miss special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the fact that they lived so far away and transportation back home was so expensive. Just gauge how much you enjoy being at home versus how much you want to live on campus. Maybe there’s an in between!

The Party Scene Gets Old, Fast:Living on campus is all good until you have too much fun with your friends the night before and decide to skip all of your classes the next day. With no mom or dad breathing down your neck and no accountability, it is definitely easy to slack off and get distracted by parties, sleeping in and skipping class, etc. Instead of having others hold you accountable, you are responsible for yourself and making sure you get to class- a scary thought isn’t it?

Housing Can Put a Whole in Your Pocket:The prices of student housing only seem to increase, which can put a hole in your pocket and your parents’ pocket. In fact, thepricesfor U.S. student housing investments have never been higher.

John Costello of Real Estate Investor writes, “Student housing was once a property sector dominated by assets that were not managed by professional investors. Institutional investors have “discovered” this sector in the current economic cycle and price-performance has reached record highs as a result.” Because student housing prices are so high, living on campus can be a financial burden if you or your parents are not able to cover the costs, even if you don’t live in a dorm and live in an off-campus apartment.

The Pros & Cons of Commuting vs. Living On Campus (3)

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Living at Home/Commuting:

My junior year, I moved back home with my parents from my off-campus apartment. This adjustment was a big one for me as there were many factors that I had to consider when organizing a class schedule for the next semester, factors that I did not have to think about when living on campus. Living at home was a large shift in what I was used to and there were definitely some great benefits as well as some setbacks that molded a new college experience for me.

(Video) Commuting VS Living On Campus - College Talk #1


Opportunity to Save Money:Living at home instead of in on-campus housing can help to save you (and your family) a good chunk of money as you don’t have to worry about the expenses of a dorm/on-campus apartment (which are often time pricey).

With theaveragecost of room and board being $9,500 or $10,830 at a private university, living at home can put that money back into you and your family’s bank account. Additionally, you can save money in terms of excess spending, such as campus food trucks/restaurants, excess clothing, and other items you might have greater access to while living on campus.

Having Immediate Support of Family or Close Friends:When living at home, you have the immediate support of family and close friends, which can definitely come in handy while you’re in college stressing over grades and managing different projects. Of course, you can have the support of family and friends while on campus, but sometimes the physical distance of loved ones can influence certain feelings you may hold like feeling lonely or isolated.

Lack of Extra Distractions (i.e. parties, tailgates, etc.):Part of the difficulty of living on campus for some students is the access to distractions like parties and tailgates. Going to fun parties and gatherings with friends is a natural part of the college experience but when parties become daily or weekly, it can interfere with accomplishing school work. When at home, there isn’t the appeal and access to these distractions, making it easier for you to focus on what is important.


Building Your Schedule Around Commuting: As I stated earlier, part of the hardship of living at home and commuting to school for me was building my entire schedule around commuting. Every day, I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to get to my train station by 7 to get parking, to then get the train at 7:42 which got me to my school by 8:45.

By the time I got to school, I had just enough time to walk from the train station to get to my first class at 9am. Train times, minoring traffic, campus parking, walking time- it’s a lot to take into consideration and can be exhausting at points! When living on campus, all you have to worry about is walking out of your dorm building and to whichever campus building you need to go to. This is certainly a convenience and a nice perk about living on campus!

Lack of Access to Immediate Campus Resources: Living off-campus at home can make access to immediate important campus resources like the library, academic advisors, professors, etc. Of course, most universities have access to the library online and you can reach advisors and professors via phone or email, but sometimes its easier to be able to just stop by and visit. That personal connection that you can make with an advisor or being able to get your hands on a physical copy of a book you need is a little bit harder to do when you’re living at home.

(Video) Should You Commute To College Or Live On Campus In A Dorm?

Lack of Access to Special Campus Events on a Day-to-Day Basis: Similar to the previous bullet, when you’re an hour away from campus, making the trip to go to an event during homecoming week or another special event isn’t always easy or enticing, which can be a bummer. Obviously, you can drive down or take public transportation, but depending on your commute time, it might be more appealing to stay home and save the travel time.

Having a Social Life is More Difficult: Being at home and away from campus can be isolating and make having a social life more difficult. Making friends and hanging out on campus is limited based on your commuter schedule and going to parties, hangouts, other fun events aren’t always possible.

While I was at home, I felt like my social life was impacted because I simply didn’t have the same living situation as most college students. When students would hang out after class to talk about the test next week, I had to rush to catch my train home. Little things like that hindered my social life as a student and made making friends/networking difficult both during and after college.

Image via Pexels

Ultimately, remember these few points whenever you’re questioning your decisions or life is challenging, and you can make it through anything!

  • It’s ok to change your mind and go against what you had originally planned.
  • Sometimes situations don’t work out, you fall out of a relationship with your roommate, your financial situation becomes difficult, family obligations come about- all of this can change our life, especially our collegeexperience and living situations.
  • It’s OK to have to go against what your original plan was, this means you are experiencing a new facet of life and taking on obstacles/challenges that will help you grow!

In college, we all want the same things: to gain knowledge, learn new perspectives, make friends, and graduate with a degree that will advance our careers in a positive way. These goals and wants are both possible when living on campus and living at home/commuting. Though there are benefits and disadvantages to both, deciding on a living situation depends on your wants and needs. As always, good luck!

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(Video) On-campus vs. Off-campus Housing vs. Commuting


What are the pros and cons of commuting to college? ›

Pros and Cons of Commuting to College
  • Free Housing. The clearest pro for commuting to college is the money saved. ...
  • Comfort and Family. ...
  • Free Food and Laundry. ...
  • Privacy. ...
  • Get Involved in the Community. ...
  • Getting Ahead. ...
  • Social Life Opportunities. ...
  • Choose How Much Time to Spend With Friends.

Is it better to live on campus or commute? ›

You Can Feel More Connected to Other Students

Students who live on campus often enjoy a greater sense of community than commuters. Living close to school facilities can make it easier for you to connect with classmates through campus activities and events.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of living on or off campus? ›

Living off campus can help the process that allows students to mature into an adult. However, leaving on campus you don't have to worry about transportation, responsibility, social life, and cost. With living on campus students can easily walk to classes, the library, and the café.

What are the advantages of commuting to college? ›

Independence One of the greatest advantages of commuting to college is the independence and initiative that students gain from the experience. Commuter students typically have more control over their schedules and have a better chance of balancing a part-time job with a full-time class schedule.

What are the cons of commuting? ›

4 cons of commuting to work
  • Commuting can affect your free time. Commuting can occupy a significant portion of an employee's day, so it may affect the amount of free time they have on weekdays. ...
  • It may be necessary to pay for your transportation. ...
  • Commuting may affect when you wake up. ...
  • You may experience traffic.
Oct 26, 2021

What is the advantage of commuting? ›

The benefit of commuting, therefore, is the opportunity to actually leave your house and get a much-needed change of scenery. If you drive to work, for example, you can sample different routes when your usual one gets too repetitive. And that's a good way to avoid feeling stuck in a rut.

What are the disadvantages of living on campus? ›

  • Noise: Dorming means living with the rowdiest people on earth; teenagers. ...
  • No privacy: Living in student dorms will mean having a multitude in your room, your bathroom, your kitchen, and even your toilet. ...
  • Room checks and laundry struggles: Dorming has a way of reminding you that you're not independent.

Why is it important to live on campus? ›

Benefits of Living On Campus

Research shows college students that live on campus experience the following in comparison to those that live off campus: Higher rates of retention, persistence, bachelor's degree attainment and graduate school entry. Higher grade point averages.

What are the advantages of living inside campus? ›

Students who live on campus generally participate in more campus activities, take advantage of campus resources, and are more involved in leadership experiences. Many times the interaction that students have within the residence hall frames their campus experience.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of living on a college or university campus? ›

The Pros and Cons of Campus Housing
  • Socialization. One of the main purposes of on-campus housing, after providing students with a place to sleep when they're not studying, is to create a community. ...
  • Convenience. ...
  • Infrastructure. ...
  • Less Privacy. ...
  • Less Freedom. ...
  • More Expensive.

What are the advantages of staying outside campus? ›

Living off-campus can be cheaper than university housing. You'll probably have more independence, freedom, privacy, and space. Private apartments are usually quieter and have fewer distractions, and therefore, are better for studying. Having a rental history will make it easier to get a place after you graduate.

What is the advantage of working on campus? ›

On-campus jobs allow you to spend time with fellow Buffs and get to know them. On-campus jobs also allow you to work more closely with faculty and staff. They can become mentors and potentially lead to future internships or research opportunities.

Is commuting good for your health? ›

Commutes offer time to shift gears

In psychological recovery, you're also mentally recovering from the energy used by the day. Without these two processes, people are at higher risk of burnout, according to a 2014 study.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of commuting long distance to work? ›

The Pros and Cons of a Long Work Commute
  • You have more time to think and relax. ...
  • You do not have to move closer to your work. ...
  • You have more choices for where you want to live. ...
  • It may make it easier to leave your current employer. ...
  • You have to leave earlier and get home later. ...
  • You risk being later more than you normally would.
Oct 24, 2020

Why is dorming better than commuting? ›

From missing out on opportunities, whether they be social events late at night or other on-campus activities, commuting can lead to a sense of exclusion from the campus community. There's also less time for homework depending on what time you have to leave the house or what time you return.

How does commuting affect students? ›

Our study concluded that students having longer commutes experienced significant physical difficulties, higher levels of stress, and an increased risk of accidents. Furthermore, we found that students with increased commute times also seemed to lose sleep more frequently than those with shorter commute times.

Is commuting to college better? ›

The benefits of commuting to college are numerous, and it can help you save money in the long run. While commuting isn't for everyone, it can be a good way to focus on your studies with fewer distractions, and it could help you graduate on time.

Why is commuting stressful? ›

Commuting also has significant psychological and social costs. It can be a major cause of stress, due to its unpredictability and a sense of loss of control. Commuters can experience boredom, social isolation, anger, and frustration from problems like traffic or delays.

How do people feel about commuting? ›

“Some people may enjoy a commute, but overall, longer travel time is linked to feelings of time crunch, which can increase stress levels,” says Hilbrecht. Lengthy commutes have already been linked to poor mental and physical health, including hypertension, obesity, low-energy and illness-related work absences.

What are pros and cons of living at home while studying at university? ›

  • It gives you more time to figure out what you want to do with your life.
  • You can save a big chunk of money.
  • You can focus more on your studies.
  • You can easily fall into the comfort zone trap.
  • You'll have to deal with the social stigma of living with your parents.

Why is living at home better than on campus? ›

Top benefits of living at home

Better balance. At home, students can focus more easily without worrying about dorm distractions. When they need a break, it's easier to disconnect if the building where they have a big exam the next day isn't visible from their bedroom. Family support.

Why is it important to stay in college? ›

College is important for many reasons, including increased career stability and satisfaction, and the ability to make an impact on your community. With more and more careers requiring advanced education, a college degree can be critical to your success in today's workforce.

Do students who live on campus do better? ›

Improve your academic outcomes

Research has shown that students who live in dorms achieve better academic outcomes during their degree, even if they live on campus for just one year. This has been attributed to being closer to classes, faculty and facilities like the library, enabling you to be more engaged.

What are the pros and cons of college? ›

Is College Right for You?
Pros of Attending CollegeCons of Attending College
Higher earning potentialHigh cost
Access to more jobsOpportunity cost of time spent not working
More learning opportunitiesThe availability of high-paying, no-degree jobs
Networking opportunitiesUnderemployed college graduates
6 more rows
Jan 23, 2023

What are some advantages and disadvantages of an out of state college or university? ›

Here are some that you should be thinking about.
  • Pro: You'll Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.
  • Con: You May Feel Isolated.
  • Pro: You Won't Be Limited on Choices.
  • Con: Tuition Will Most Likely Be Higher.
Dec 22, 2022

What are the advantages and disadvantages of going to university? ›

  • Pro: greater earning potential. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), graduates can expect to earn more on average than non-graduates over the course of their careers. ...
  • Con: student debt. ...
  • Pro: greater job choice. ...
  • Con: 'worthless' degrees. ...
  • Pro: life experience. ...
  • Con: vocational courses.
Aug 17, 2022

Why college students should live off campus? ›

A blog by SUNY points out that a major benefit of living off campus is privacy. Most students have to share a room with at least one other person and are also supervised by RAs. Privacy may still be limited when living with roommates off campus in an apartment, but there is no curfew, dorm rules or communal bathrooms.

Why is on campus learning better than online? ›

Advantages of on-campus learning

Full access to campus facilities like libraries, computer labs, etc. In-person interaction and discussion with fellow students. More opportunities to socialize and make new friends. Greater choice of degree programs.

What are the benefits of staying in school? ›

Benefits of Education are Societal and Personal
  • Poverty Reduction. Lack of access to education is considered the root of poverty. ...
  • Connecting Across Borders. ...
  • Sense of Accomplishment. ...
  • More Productivity. ...
  • Better Communication. ...
  • Critical Thinking Skills. ...
  • Identification of Skills. ...
  • Greater Sense of Discipline.

What is the main disadvantage of working on campus rather than off campus? ›

There are disadvantages to campus jobs. The main disadvantage is that wages tend to be lower than those offered by off-campus jobs. Campus jobs are unlikely to pay much more than minimum wage. While many off-campus employers offer similar wages, there are those that offer significantly more.

What are the disadvantages of commuter student? ›

Problems that you may run into while being a commuter is that your car could break down, class can be cancelled while you are five minutes away from school, weather conditions, you might not make friends unless you put yourself out there, and public transportation might be down.

Is commuting bad for mental health? ›

Long-term effects of dealing with a stressful commute can be significant, including depression, ongoing anxiety, and a dread of the commute cycle. "Research proves that ongoing stress is detrimental to overall physical and psychological health," says Manly.

What are the benefits of Dorming? ›

4 Reasons To Live In A Dorm
  • Convenient Location. One of the best advantages of dorm living is a prime location. ...
  • Meet New Friends. Living in a dorm, residents meet other students from all walks of life, enriching their college experience. ...
  • Positive Transition To Adulthood. ...
  • Student-Focused.

What are the pros and cons of going to college out of state? ›

Here are some that you should be thinking about.
  • Pro: You'll Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.
  • Con: You May Feel Isolated.
  • Pro: You Won't Be Limited on Choices.
  • Con: Tuition Will Most Likely Be Higher.
Dec 22, 2022

What are the pros and cons of instate colleges? ›

Advantages of attending an in-state college
  • Lower cost of travel. ...
  • Lower tuition costs. ...
  • More comfortable. ...
  • You'll be close to home. ...
  • Limited universities to choose from. ...
  • It may not be as exciting. ...
  • You'll experience a different culture. ...
  • You'll be independent.

What are two advantages of distance learning? ›

The reasons why online education is more accessible than traditional education are the following: No school travel costs. Students do not have to live on campus, or rent an apartment near the school/university.

What are some advantages of distance learning? ›

Pros: If you have a full-time job or family responsibilities, the flexibility of online education is the biggest pro for you. Distance learning means that you don't have to worry about things like commuting to and from school, coordinating childcare, or leaving work to attend class.

Why distance learning is better? ›

Flexible Scheduling Opportunities

Trying to schedule work shifts with school (and homework) can be overwhelming for students. Luckily, distance learning offers more flexibility with scheduling than traditional classes. Students may have an easier time balancing both work and school with virtual classes.

What are the pros and cons of free college? ›

Why Should College Be Free?
Pro's of Tuition Free CollegeCon's of Tuition Free College
Reduces student debtIncrease in taxes
Improved college graduation ratesCollege may not be taken seriously
More freedom to choose a major you enjoyCollege education could decrease in quality
1 more row

What are the cons of not going to college? ›

High school graduates who don't go on to college are two and a half times more likely than those with bachelor's degrees to receive Medicaid benefits, four times more likely to get food stamps and four times more likely to need public housing, the College Board finds, while their kids are three times more likely to ...

What are the benefits of not going to college? ›

These are the 10 biggest benefits of not going to college:
  • No need to take out student loans.
  • More time to gain work experience.
  • Increased investment time horizon.
  • Ability to focus on employability skills.
  • Self-paced learning opportunities.
  • Reduced reliance on others.
  • Easier to switch career trajectories.
Sep 13, 2022

What are the pros and cons of a big college? ›

Pros and Cons of Large Colleges
  • Pro: More extracurricular opportunities.
  • Con: Lost in the crowd.
  • Pro: More career resources.
  • Con: Long walks.
Dec 22, 2022

What are the pros of going to a state school? ›

No additional school fees – all children have an entitlement to state primary and secondary education, paid for indirectly through taxation. Standard curriculum – all state schools follow the same national curriculum, providing – in theory at least – the same standards of learning across the country.


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