Should Students Live On-Campus or At Home?

Student Wellness
July 7, 2020
Every Year, Students Across The Country Are Torn Between Living On-Campus For College Or Staying At Home...

Beyond the social and academic outcomes, there are many reasons why students choose to live in one place or the other.

This essential decision can have a heavy effect on how a student performs in their first year and beyond. In this article, we’ll go over everything you and your student need to know to make an informed choice on their college housing situation.

The College Housing Problem

For students across the country, one of the most nerve-wracking and expensive parts of college is securing housing. Even for students that live on-campus, there are hidden fees and drawbacks that may not become apparent until a student is already well into their first semester. In order to provide safe and comfortable housing for its student body, many colleges use dorm and residence structures that provide little privacy, space, or room for expression.

Of course, every college handles the housing problem differently. Check with your child’s college to see what their options are, including their prices and the range of amenities, resources, and space available to them.

Additionally, with the challenges brought to colleges by Covid-19, many students are no longer automatically assuming they will live on-campus. Students who were expecting to move into dorms this fall are coming to terms with the idea that living at home may be the better solution. While living at home while you attend college may not be the most glamorous option, for some students it can provide the comfort and stability they need to succeed in these uncertain times.

The Pros And Cons Of On-Campus Housing

While American culture may make living on-campus seem like the default choice for college students, there are a plethora of pros and cons to consider before your child signs their housing agreement. Go through them with your child and make sure they know what they are getting into. Most students will be extremely excited by the idea of living on-campus, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t weigh all of their options!


  • Those who live on campus have more opportunities to make lasting social connections.
  • The experience of living on-campus at a four-year institution is enriching academically, socially, and culturally.
  • Living on campus provides students convenient access to their campus and classes.
  • Many colleges have resources geared specifically toward on-campus students and their needs.


  • For many, the costs of living on-campus takes up a large portion of their total college price.
  • The majority of on-campus living situations provide students with little privacy or space.
  • Students who have close relationships with their family and friends back home may experience homesickness.
  • For nontraditional students, such as those with full-time jobs or families to care for, living on-campus can be a logistical challenge coordinating schedules, transportation, and financial situations.

For traditional first-year students, living on campus can provide them with a sense of freedom, responsibility, and experience. The time spent living on-campus and growing with a diverse student body can provide students with a fresh perspective and new understanding.

However, for some students, living on-campus is not as easy as signing up for housing and moving in. For those who need to support their family, work full-time or part-time, or have other circumstances that require their time and attention, living on-campus may not be the best solution.

The Pros And Cons Of Students Living At Home

While many colleges gear their resources and advertising toward students who want to live on-campus, there are many reasons why living at home may be the right option for your child. Wanting to live at home while you attend college goes far beyond saving money. If your child is unsure about living on-campus or intrigued about living at home while they go to school, make sure you have a serious conversation about what that situation would look like for your family.


  • Students who live at home have the ability to help their family, friends, and community without having to plan an off-campus trip.
  • Living at home while attending college can save students money in everything from food to housing costs.
  • At home, students can carve out their own space and privacy.
  • Students who have a difficult time getting “settled in” will be able to adjust to college more easily without having to worry about moving.


  • For some, the lack of independence that comes with living at home can feel stifling.
  • Transportation to and from class becomes an issue for students who live at home.
  • By living at home, students lose out on the on-campus experience.
  • Students can experience friction with their families as they become more independent while still living at home.

Living at home while attending college can work for a variety of students. However, keep in mind that one of the biggest pros of college is the experience - and living off-campus requires losing out on some of that. For students who are mainly concerned with their education, not participating in on-campus events after hours or parties may not feel like a huge trade-off.

Staying at home works well for non-traditional students as well. If your child is interested in working through college, providing help for their family, or sticking close to their current support system, they may thrive by staying at home. This includes students who may or may not feel comfortable rooming with students they have only met a handful of times before.

How To Choose College Housing

In the end, no two colleges handle housing the same way and no two students will prefer the exact same housing solution. Make sure you have a long discussion with your student about the pros and cons of living at home or living on-campus. During this conversation, make sure you’re referencing the options available at the school your child will be attending - make the trade-offs as clear as possible to ensure your student knows what they are getting into.

Overall, the most important thing you can recommend to your child is to seriously think about their choice. Living on-campus should not be the default choice, because many students would do much better in school if they lived at home with the guidance of their family. However, not every student thrives in college unless they get the chance to spread their wings and live away from their family. Everyone is unique, and the same goes for college students.

Regardless of where your child falls on this scale, make sure you provide them with your support. Choosing to live on-campus or at home rarely has anything to do with how a student feels about their family (whether positive or negative). Many students make the choice of where to live based on how they feel about their future plans instead!

If your child needs extra guidance in finding the right housing solution for them, or any other aspect of getting into college and thriving while they’re there, our experienced team can help. Our counselors don’t just know the facts, tips, and tricks - they have been in your child’s shoes before. Using our knowledge to help students find the college situation where they can flourish is what we do, so please reach out to meet with our team if your child is struggling!



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.