Should You Live on Campus Freshman Year? The Pros and Cons

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Colleges of Distinction »

As the exciting moment of starting college approaches, one of the most significant decisions you’ll face as a freshman is where to live during this transformative phase of your life. The choice between living on or off campus can greatly influence your college experience, shaping your social life, academic performance, and overall sense of belonging. This article delves into all you should consider before deciding whether living on campus during your freshman year is the best option for you.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of living on campus during your freshman year, helping you gain insights into the unique experiences each option offers. By weighing the factors that align with your personal goals and lifestyle, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision that sets the foundation for a rewarding and fulfilling college experience. 

Living On Campus:


Proximity to Academic Resources:

Living on campus provides convenient access to academic resources. Picture this: you’re just a short stroll away from libraries, computer labs, study spaces, and even the professors’ offices! It’s like having everything at your fingertips, which means more time and energy saved for everything else. This proximity creates a conducive environment for learning and seeking academic support when needed.

Enhanced Social Experience:

Living on campus opens up a world of opportunities for socializing and building meaningful friendships. Surrounded by fellow students experiencing similar journeys, connecting and forming lasting bonds becomes effortless. The bustling residence halls and dormitories become a vibrant hub of activity, offering an invaluable chance to meet people from diverse backgrounds, engage in study groups, and create lasting bonds that can shape your college journey.

Rob Williford, Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs & Residence Life at the University of Indianapolis, says that living on campus opens students up to a vast network of people, resources, and opportunities that are built into the first-year experience. Both in the residence hall and around campus, the first-year on-campus student is more socially connected, better positioned to get involved or find an on-campus job, and more likely to excel academically. This is all thanks to their ability to take advantage of the resources available to them in a consistent manner.

Convenient Campus Involvement:

On-campus living allows you to easily get involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and events. You’ll have easy access to seminars, guest lectures, and social gatherings. Being in the heart of campus life enables you to make the most of the college experience outside of the classroom.

Victoria Field, a junior communications student at Cal State Fullerton, lived on campus during her freshman year. She said that it was one of the best decisions she made in college because it allowed her to fully connect with the Titan community. 

“Having a five-minute walk to access campus resources was so helpful. Cal State Fullerton also had dorms that were themed community housing. By sharing a floor with other students that have the same major, I was able to build connections and study with other students who have the same professors and classes. It provided me with friendships and helpful study buddies, all in one. Now, two years later, all my friends from that floor are starting to network with one another,” said Field.

Safety and Security:

Most college campuses prioritize the safety and security of their residents. On-campus housing typically includes measures such as security personnel, surveillance cameras, and secure access points. This can provide peace of mind for both students and their families, especially if you’re attending college in an unfamiliar area.



Living on campus often comes with a large up-front financial investment. Room and board fees can vary depending on the college or university, but most require payment for these at the beginning of each semester. It’s important to consider your budget and compare the cost of on-campus housing with the expenses of commuting or living off campus. There are still plenty of ways to get involved on campus as a commuter student. It’s important that you pick the option that best suits your budget.

Limited Privacy:

Living in a dormitory or residence hall means sharing a living space with other students. This lack of privacy can be a challenge for those who value solitude or need a quiet environment for studying. Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing common areas, bathrooms, and potentially even a bedroom with a roommate.

Commuting to Campus:


Familiar Environment:

Commuting to campus from within the approved radius brings many positive aspects to your college experience. You get to enjoy the comfort and convenience of your own home, surrounded by a familiar environment that supports your well-established routines and personal support systems. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of your academic journey while still feeling at home throughout your college adventure.

Potential Cost Savings:

Commuting can be a cost-effective option compared to on-campus living. You may save on room and board fees, potentially reducing your overall college expenses. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re concerned about managing your finances during your freshman year.

Autonomy and Privacy:

Commuting offers you full control over your living environment, providing the advantage of maintaining your personal space, enjoying privacy, and establishing study habits and routines that align perfectly with your preferences.


Time and Travel:

Commuting to campus can involve a significant amount of time and travel. Depending on your proximity to campus and traffic conditions, you may need to factor in commuting time into your daily schedule. This can potentially add stress and impact your availability for extracurricular activities or evening events.

Limited Campus Involvement:

Living off campus may result in less spontaneous involvement in campus activities and events. Being physically removed from the campus community may require more intentional effort to stay engaged with clubs, organizations, and social gatherings.

Potential Social Disconnection:

Commuting opens the door to unique challenges for social interaction and connection with fellow students, but fret not! There are countless wonderful ways to stay socially engaged and build meaningful connections with your fellow students. While you may not experience the close-knit community of living on campus, you can still find alternative paths to connect through clubs, organizations, campus events, and study groups.

Ultimately, the decision to live on campus or commute is a personal one that depends on your preferences, goals, and circumstances. Consider factors such as proximity to academic resources, enhanced social experience, convenient campus involvement, and safety and security. Reflect on your desired level of independence, your social needs, and your budgetary considerations.

Remember to take the time to visit the campus, talk to current students, and explore the housing options available to you. Additionally, consult with your college’s housing office or admissions counselor for more information and guidance specific to your institution.

Regardless of your choice, keep in mind that college is a transformative and exciting time. Whether you decide to live on campus or commute, embrace the opportunities for growth, learning, and connection that college offers. Engage with your peers, participate in activities, and make the most of your college experience.