Many universities strongly recommend that students live on-campus in dorms for at least their first year of college. Students and their families often have questions about on-campus housing: Is living on campus better? What are the real benefits? Why not live at home? Here are a few insights to help you and your student make the best housing decision.
Research says . . .
The recommendation to live on campus isn’t just an arbitrary decision made by universities — it’s because we know that students are more likely to stay in school and be successful in their studies when they live on campus their first year. In fact, some universities require freshmen to live on campus for their first year (although exemptions can be requested). Additional benefits include:
Community and belonging
The first year of college is crucial for making connections, since many students are coming into a new environment. When students live on campus, they are fully immersed in the college experience, which makes it easier to build a new network that can last a lifetime.
On-campus students can easily access libraries, faculty office hours, tutoring and study partner sessions, and quiet places to do homework.
Living on campus will expose your student to a variety of backgrounds, views, beliefs and ways of living. This will give your student the opportunity to practice navigating nonfamilial relationships and engaging in positive conflict resolution strategies.
Students gain a level of independence by living away from home. And if your student needs help at any point, residential staff, student community assistants and professional staff are available at all times in residence halls.
Living at home has advantages, too
But that doesn’t mean living at home would negatively impact a student’s college experience. Here are some advantages to living at home:
Living at home can be more cost-effective for some families, especially if they live very close to the university or if a family situation requires a student to provide care for a family member.
Students who decide to stay at home may have a space, routine, and support system they know well.
There is no right or wrong answer — it depends entirely on you and your student. If your family decides that a student should live at home, we strongly recommend that they join clubs or other student organizations, attend faculty office hours or study sessions on campus, and participate in campus events throughout the year to get the most from their first-year experiences. What is most important is that your student is able to make connections and study hard, whether that’s at home or in a residence hall.
After their first year of college, students have even more options, including remaining on campus or living off campus in an apartment or shared housing. Living off campus can help:
- continue fostering a sense of community by rooming with classmates and staying close to campus.
- build financial responsibility and time management skills.
Wherever your student lives, rest assured that their college campus will work hard to keep your student safe. If a student lives in a residence hall on campus, they will likely need an ID card or key of some kind to enter the building, keeping the location secure and free of strangers. We want students to enjoy peace of mind so they can focus on their studies and extracurricular activities.
Contributor Cesar Flores, director of International Admission Services at Arizona State University.