Should my Child Live On-Campus or At Home?

If you're child is attending a local school,  you may think it makes more sense for him to live with you rather than on campus. 

This can make sense financially, and has an added bonus of keeping your child away from too many distractions so he or she can focus on schoolwork. However, it's not a decision that should be made without weighing the pros and cons.

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Experience

If your student wants the full college experience, she will probably be disappointed living at home. While on campus she will have easy access to facilities like the gym, library, dining hall, and everything else the campus has to offer. She won't have to worry about making it home after events or late-night study sessions with classmates. Everything will generally be within walking distance.

Living off campus means your student may find it difficult to attend activities that happen later in the day. He may miss out on learning to live on his own for the first time. When he has to worry about commuting, he has less time to make friends and take part in clubs and activities. He also doesn't get to experience bonding with a roommate, which can teach him how to get along with someone different than him. 

Cost

Living on campus can be expensive and can’t always fit in everyone’s budget. Dorms are not always affordable for every family, and they offer very little privacy for their price.

However, having your student live at home is not completely cost-free. Students will need reliable transportation, which often means a car and all the costs that come with it. She will also be contributing to water and electric costs for your home, as well as eating the contents of your refrigerator. 

Many families do make this arrangement work, and if budgets are very tight students can often find ways to make public transportation or car-pooling work for them. Having a student live at home is not free, but it is usually much less expensive than paying for room and board at school.

Independence

The biggest pro to living on campus for both students and their parents, is the lesson students get in learning to be independent. It is not impossible for a student to become independent while living with their parents, but it can be much more difficult.

If your student is planning on living at home with you while going to college it pays to discuss the arrangement ahead of time so everyone is aware of expectations. This will not be the same as when your student is in high school. He will have his own schedule and will need to learn how to make it to all of his classes on time and complete his assignments. This may mean your student leaves early in the day and you don't see them again until late in the evening or even the next day. Your student may resent having to check in with you all of the time so make sure you are able to give him his space.

One pro of living at home is that your student may have an easier time concentrating on their work without distractions. You may even find your student bringing friends home to study in your living room. This is another aspect of your child living at home to prepare for. 

Discuss the situation as a family to find out what will work best for you. Some students choose to live on campus for their freshman year so they can make friends and become oriented and then live at home for the remainder of their studies. If costs are an issue, many schools offer free room and board to students who work as Resident Advisors, a job that is typically only available to sophomores and up.

Explore all your options and reach a decision that everyone is comfortable with, making sure your student understands all of the costs involved!

Get your child started finding their best college match financially, academically and socially.