Q&A - September 1, 2017

When Goldilocks visited the three bears’ house, she sampled all the bowls of porridge, sat in all the chairs, and tried all the beds until she found what was “just right” for her. College students sometimes have similar difficulties in finding what’s “just right” for them. They check out different colleges, sample various majors, and try out assorted clubs, activities, and housing options until they find the right fit.

Q: I’m unsure whether it’s better for my daughter to live on campus or off campus when she goes to college. Which is the best choice?

For generations, college-bound students have debated about the merits of living on or off campus, and honestly, you can make a strong case for either option.

There’s a lot to be said about living on campus. To begin, your residence hall places you in the middle of a vibrant community of students and makes it much easier for you to become engaged with campus activities. Moreover, it guarantees all sorts of facilities and amenities will be readily accessible—from the gym and the dining hall to your classrooms and the library. Without a doubt, living in campus-based housing is a fabulous way to meet people and cement friendships.  

On the other hand, living off campus holds many advantages too. For starters, off-campus apartments will likely provide more comfortable living space and more privacy. Plus, it’s quite likely your apartment will be quieter than a dorm—making it a great place to study! It also affords you the opportunity to get a better taste of independence and adulthood. After all, you’ll be running your own mini household.

While both choices have clear advantages, they also come with disadvantages. Let’s consider some of the cons. Yes, dorm life provides a variety of social options and outlets just steps away, but the “bubble” of campus life can also make it difficult to find quiet time or to concentrate without interruption. Additionally, privacy is at a premium when you have to share a modest living space and bathroom with several other people.

As for living off campus, commuting is always a factor. Depending on how far you live from campus, you might find yourself feeling isolated from your school and peers. Additionally, there are more responsibilities. It will be up to you to set up utilities, pay bills, and buy groceries. You may also have to furnish your own apartment and cook your own meals. 

But another alternative housing option is growing in popularity. Some colleges are beginning to develop new student housing projects away from campus that provide the best of both worlds. These, so called, “goldilocks” facilities are just right for many students—not too close to be in the bubble and not too far away to feel isolated. College-owned apartments are usually located within an easy commute to campus (sometimes on a shuttle bus route) and provide all the comforts and privacy of apartment life with the social amenities of dorm life. The Grand Old Post Office in downtown Okmulgee is a perfect example.

Please continue to send your great questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu