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Living on campus vs. living off

As a result of the increase in the number of students living at Eastern, students now have the opportunity to add their name to a waiting list to be approved for living off-campus. However, before rushing to put their names down, students should consider whether or not living off-campus is really all it is made out to be.

It is true that off-campus living has many benefits. For one, students who do not live on campus are not required to have a roommate. True, students who rent apartments or houses are likely to room with one or more people, but they are in the situation voluntarily and, more than likely, good friends, so they are not being forced to live with a complete stranger who they may or may not wind up getting along with.

Their living arrangements are also likely to be more comfortable and more spacious than the dormitories can offer. Students who live off-campus are also not required to purchase a meal plan, so they do not have to eat from the much-maligned Sodexo-sponsored Dining Commons. There are also likely to be far fewer distractions in an off-campus apartment than in a dorm room, giving students more room to concentrate on their schoolwork.

However, off-campus living does have its downsides. For students who drive to and from campus, traffic on the roads around Eastern can be a nightmare, especially around rush hour. Parking, particularly on “Experience Eastern Days”, can be equally frustrating.

In addition, students who live off campus can find themselves being less-involved in school activities than those who live on campus, sometimes only staying on campus while they have classes.

Part of the reason for this is because students who live off campus really do not have a place to relax or hang out when they are not in class. There is the commuter lounge, of course, but that really does not offer students the same opportunity to take their shoes off and relax like in a dorm room.

For students who have either purchased a limited meal plan or chosen not to purchase one at all, having meals on campus can become an issue. Finally, students who rent their own apartment have to stay on top of paying their rent and utility bills, which more than likely means that they need to find a job and balance that with their schoolwork.

Of course, living in a dorm is not perfect either. For instance, the dorm rooms can be small and the beds less than comfortable. Students can find themselves with less-than-friendly roommates, who they can wind up stuck with for an entire semester, or even an entire year.

They also have to buy meal plans, which means eating at the Dining Commons. For students who do not have an on-campus apartment or a suite, there can be the problem of communal bathrooms and having to wait for a toilet or shower.

Still, there are benefits to living on campus. Because room and board is included in tuition, students only have to worry about one fixed bill to pay, not two or more that can vary from month to month. Students also have a place to rest between classes when they are really worn out.

Living on-campus also fosters a sense of community between students, be it in a dormitory hall or around a table in the dining commons. Finally students who live in the dorms can be more involved in on-campus activities since they are right at the heart of the action and do not have to worry about getting back and forth between their home and the campus.

This still begs the question of which option is best. That, ultimately, is up to the individual student. If a student wants to focus primarily on their studies and doesn’t plan on getting all that involved on campus, than an off-campus housing option would probably be best. If, on the other hand, a student wants to get involved on campus and become a deeper part of the Eastern community, remaining in the dorm is definitely their best bet.

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