Choosing Between Living in an Apartment or a Dorm

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Dorm Life

As you prepare to head off to college, one of the many decisions you will have to make is where to live. Most colleges offer on-campus residence halls or dormitories, while others give you the option to rent an off-campus apartment or house. But how do you decide which is right for you?

Firstly, it’s important to determine whether you have a choice. Some colleges require freshmen to live in dorms unless they live within a certain distance from the campus. This is because living on campus offers easy access to classes, professors, and resources that can help you adjust to college life. Additionally, being on campus makes it easier to participate in extracurricular activities and meet new people who share similar interests.

Living in a dorm also provides a level of security that an apartment may not offer, especially for freshmen who are living away from home for the first time. Plus, with parking being expensive on many campuses, living on campus eliminates the need for a car, which some schools don’t even allow freshmen to have.

Some colleges offer programs specifically designed for freshmen, such as the Freshman Experience at Georgia Tech, which includes freshman-only housing and meal plans, as well as networking opportunities with upperclassmen, faculty, and alumni.

Despite the benefits of living on campus, you may still prefer living in an apartment. Many residence halls offer apartment-style living with private bathrooms or shared facilities with a few other people. However, dorms come with rules that you may not agree with, such as curfews or restrictions on visitors. You may also be required to purchase a meal plan, which may not be convenient for everyone.

Another factor to consider is cost. Living in a dorm typically includes everything, while living in an apartment requires paying rent, utilities, and buying and cooking your own food. However, if you have several potential roommates, the cost of renting an apartment could be comparable to living in a dorm.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to live in an apartment or a dorm comes down to your budget and personal preferences.

Author’s Note

Although I lived in an apartment on campus for my first two years of college, I never experienced dorm life. As a private person who values personal space and has a disdain for public bathrooms, the idea of sharing a room with a stranger never appealed to me. However, many of my friends who lived in dorms loved the experience and formed lasting friendships with their roommates. Choosing where to live during college is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. It’s always possible to switch to a different dorm or apartment until the perfect fit is found.

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  • Esker, Jordan. “Dorms vs. Apartments.” FSU News. May 24, 2010. (July 18, 2012)
  • Georgia Tech Department of Housing Campus Services. “Living at Tech.” 2012. (July 18, 2012)
  • Mack, Julie. “For college freshmen, first year is one of upheaval.” Kalamazoo News. Sept. 6, 2010. (July 18, 2012)
  • Miller, Mackie. “Dormify: Apartment vs. Dorm.” USA Today College. 2012. (July 18, 2012)
  • Peterson’s College Search. “Considering Campus Housing in Your College Decision.” 2011. (July 18, 2012)
  • University of Georgia Department of Housing. “Community Guides.” 2012. (July 18, 2012)


1. What are the main differences between living in an apartment and a dorm?

Living in an apartment typically means more space and privacy, as well as more responsibility for things like rent and utilities. Dorm living often involves sharing a room and common spaces with roommates, but may offer more social opportunities and easier access to campus resources.

2. How do the costs compare between living in an apartment and a dorm?

The cost of living in an apartment versus a dorm can vary widely depending on factors like location and amenities. In general, apartments are usually more expensive, but may offer more flexibility in terms of lease length and ability to split costs with roommates. Dorms often come with a set price and may include meal plans and other perks.

3. What should I consider when deciding between an apartment and a dorm?

When making this decision, it’s important to consider your priorities and lifestyle. If you value privacy and independence, an apartment may be a better fit. If you prioritize social connections and convenience, a dorm may be a better choice. Other factors to consider include location, cost, and access to resources like transportation and grocery stores.

4. How can I make the most of my living situation, whether in an apartment or a dorm?

Regardless of where you live, there are ways to make the most of your living situation. In a dorm, take advantage of opportunities to socialize with fellow residents and get involved in campus events. In an apartment, prioritize keeping the space clean and organized, and consider hosting gatherings or game nights with friends. Both options offer unique benefits, so focus on finding ways to make the most of your living situation.

5. Can living in an apartment or a dorm impact academic performance?

While both living situations can offer advantages and disadvantages, studies have shown that dorm living may have a positive impact on academic performance. The social connections and proximity to campus resources may help students stay more engaged and on track with their studies. However, individual factors like study habits and time management are ultimately more important than the living situation.

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