During a teen’s senior year of high school, part of the excitement in choosing a college is deciding whether they’re going to stay in the dorms or not. I decided not to live in the dorms because my college was close to home and it didn’t seem financially worth it to live on campus. After talking to people who live in the dorms, I think that there are a fairly equal number of pros and cons to dorm life and commuting.
If your teen lives in the dorms, then:
They will get to meet a ton of people. They may end up making friends for life or network with someone who can help them find a future job.
They don’t have to get up early for class because they live so close. They can literally wait until the last minute to get out of bed, unlike commuter students who sometimes have to drive or take public transportation which can amount to more than an hour of commuting and looking for parking each day.
They will have more opportunities to get involved on campus. They don’t have the hassle of driving back and forth to participate in the activities they’re interested in. For example, if they could join the English club even if the meetings are at an inconvenient time.
They don’t have to worry if one of their classes is in conflict with their professor’s office hours. They can simply get together with their professor when they don’t have class, unlike commuter students who might have to make an extra drive just to discuss an essay.
They won’t waste money on gas because they probably won’t be bringing a car to college.
They have a chance to become independent. If they’re not on a meal plan in the dorm, they can buy their own groceries. Living with other students and not being home with mom and dad might actually give them the incentive to learn how to cook.
If your teen commutes to college then:
They might find living in a dorm is expensive because it includes a meal plan and other necessities. Not to mention, if the college is far away their parents will have to pay for airfare expenses.
They will have to manage their time wisely by balancing extracurricular activities, homework, studying, eating and sleeping. If they’re not careful, they could get too distracted and end up not getting anything done.
They won’t have their parents to tell them what to do. Your teen could decide not to go to class and end up getting a failing grade in a course.
They might feel they are stuck on a desert island. The dorm food and parties will eventually seem boring and they might wish for something different.
They can’t have a pet in their dorm room. If they have a pet at home, they’ll miss them when they’re in college. They’ll get homesick for family and friends. If their college is far away, they won’t get to see them for a long time unless they talk to them by Skype.
As you seen, these are all factors a teen should take into consideration when they’re choosing a college. If their first choice college is close to home, it might make better sense to commute to campus. However, if they end up attending college far away parents might have to factor in additional expenses for travel and teens might need a crash course is becoming more independent.
Photo credit: Girard College Campus from Cornell University Library on Flickr