Scratched linoleum floors. Two rickety bunk-beds. Curtains that look like they might have been white- ten years ago. Fluorescent lights that seemed design to highlight every mascara smear, burgeoning white-head, and stubborn fly-away. Is this a prison cell, or a dorm room?
Although leaving your bedroom at home to move into your residence hall might feel like a Princess-to-Pauper scenario, the benefits of living on-campus more than make up for the lack of glamour or good lighting.
One of these advantages is the presence of tons of potential friends. Most college freshman start off knowing two or three people going to their school, maybe five if they’re lucky. I didn’t know a single person, and I was terrified I’d be spending orientation week sans clique while everyone else had the time of their lives. Fortunately, meeting all of my new neighbors was a seamless way to form friendships! It’s super easy to bond with the girls on your floor or in your building—you have tons of built-in conversation starters, like how nosy the RA is or how the third shower in the communal bathroom is the only one with steaming hot water.
Another bonus is the proximity to, well, everything. At home, if I wanted to go the gym I had to bike there or ask my mom for a ride. Now, all I have to do is walk two minutes to my school’s Recreation Center. And if I need to pick up a book for my research paper on the way, the library is just around the corner. From restaurants to book-stores to bowling alleys, almost all campuses are like miniature villages. Living in the dorms means plopping yourself in the center of the action, and ensuring you’re never more than twenty minutes away from the essentials.
In addition, you get that magical “sense of belonging.” One of my sophomore friends explained that last year she had commuted to school instead of staying in one of the Res Halls. Driving home right after her classes meant she had a much harder time meeting people, joining organizations, or feeling like she was a part of the school’s network. In her words, it was “depressing,” and “definitely the wrong decision.” An apartment might be swanky, but it lacks the cozy communal feeling of those 9’ by 12’ doubles.
To be fair, there are horror stories—crazy roommates, bed bugs, music blasting at 2 a.m. when you have a test the next day—but these are the exceptions, not the rule. In general, living on-campus is awesome. After all, you have your whole life to upgrade from jail-cell conditions, but only one year to be a freshman in the dorms.