Commuting vs. Living on Campus: Which Choice is Best for You?
If you’re planning to take undergraduate courses during Summer Term, you may be weighing the merits of living on campus vs. commuting. It’s a common debate for many students. The good news is that either option can yield a rewarding and memorable learning experience. Residing on campus offers proximity to facilities and classmates, plus the convenience of almost no travel time, while commuting can bring benefits like lower costs and fewer distractions.
To make an informed choice, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each living option and familiarize yourself with what’s available on and around your campus of choice. If you’re considering enrolling as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins University for Summer Term, for example, be sure to learn more about living and learning on Homewood campus.
Read on for a look at the pros and cons of living on campus vs. commuting.
Pros of Living on Campus
Many students who choose to live on campus do so because they enjoy the lifestyle and convenience of being close to all the action. Some of the benefits include:
No Commute Time
Being on campus means you won’t have to spend time commuting or worry about parking, fuel costs, public transportation schedules, or traffic. Without the need to get to and from campus, you may be able to sleep in a little longer and linger later at the end of the day.
More Opportunities for Socialization
As a residential student you will likely have more opportunities to spend time with other students, chat with friends, and grab a bite to eat with classmates. Consider your lifestyle: If you’re a night owl who envisions late-night study sessions with your classmates, you might find you can do it more comfortably if you don’t have a long walk to your car or a 30-minute commute home afterward.
Easier Access to On-Campus Resources
Whether it’s the library next to your dorm or the short walk to your professor’s or adviser’s office, your location on campus will likely mean easier access to all that campus has to offer. Consider what your campus of choice offers in terms of campus resources—like dining, housing, libraries, recreational centers, labs, and other facilities—as you make your decision.
Cons of Living on Campus
Living on campus can have some drawbacks. While your experience may vary, you should consider that some students may find living on campus presents these issues:
Some students feel they need to get away from campus and spend time alone in order to decompress. Living on campus can mean sharing living space with roommates, which can be fun, but also challenging for some. It can also be difficult to find time and space for privacy and quiet. While living off campus can come with some of the same problems—you might have roommates or share space with family—your off-campus living arrangement may offer more privacy or the ability to more easily spend time away from other students.
On-Campus Housing Costs
Living on campus can be more expensive than commuting or living off campus, depending on your specific arrangements. This includes the cost of room and board and any additional fees associated with living in on-campus housing.
Limited Ability to Cook
Living in on-campus housing may mean you won’t have access to a fully functioning kitchen (though living arrangements vary, which makes it all the more important to understand your on-campus options). Because of this, on-campus housing usually means eating in the dining hall. Even with the nicest dining hall food on offer, some students find themselves craving a home-cooked meal.
Pros of Commuting to College Classes
Although it may be mandatory to live on campus at certain universities and colleges, when allowed, you might choose to live off campus in shared housing and attend as a commuter student. Or it might be possible for you to live with family and commute to campus. Some of the benefits of attending as a commuter include:
If you have family that lives within commuting distance of the college or university you hope to attend, living with them will no doubt save you money on room and board. Even living off campus with roommates may offer savings since you will have a greater ability to shop around, to share space with more people, and to forego an on-campus dining plan in favor of preparing your own food.
Campuses tend to be, by their very nature, social places. If you have the tendency to get overwhelmed or have a hard time focusing in busy environments, you may find that a quieter-than-campus off-site residence offers a more focus-friendly environment.
Getting Away for a Break is Easier
Living off campus may make it easier to get away from college life when you need a break. Students commuting from their family homes also get to remain in their familiar environment, which can provide a sense of comfort and security.
Cons of Commuting to College Classes
Living off-campus isn’t a perfect solution for every student. Some challenges of off-campus living include:
Availability and Proximity to Campus Resources
All Summer at Hopkins students have access to JHU-sponsored programs on campus and are able to take part in Saturday field trips. However, evening residential programs are exclusive to students living on-campus. Also, you may find you don’t want to drive to campus for an event if you don’t already have a class that day. Or you might want to leave campus early if you have a long drive home.
Additionally, if on-campus students want a change of scenery (or want to socialize) while studying, walking to the library is easy. For commuting students, packing up and preparing to study on campus for a few hours can seem like a chore.
Transportation Costs and Traffic
Whether you take a bus, the train, or drive a car, your education depends on your transportation. Commuting to college can be expensive thanks to costs like gas and parking.
As a commuter, you may also have to put a little extra effort into planning when to leave in order to account for variables like traffic and delayed public transportation. If you use public transportation, you’ll also need to coordinate your class schedule to ensure you can get to campus when you need to.
Making the Decision
Deciding between commuting vs. living on campus ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences. Commuting may offer cost savings and some quality-of-life benefits, while living on campus provides the full college experience and easy access to resources and activities.
Consider factors such as distance, cost, and your desire for independence and social opportunities when making your decision.
JHU’s Summer at Hopkins caters to students both on campus and off. Whether you live on our historic Homewood Campus or commute from off campus, you will be taught by JHU’s exceptional faculty, have access to its facilities, and will be part of its highly engaged learning community.