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Convenience vs. cost: Should you live on campus?

Two UK students sign up for graduation while enjoying the warm weather on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, outside of William T. Young Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Kentucky Kernel Staff

College students have many factors to consider when deciding where to live during their time as undergraduates.

Going into college, there are a lot of logistics to figure out and questions to answer. Whether you’re moving 12 hours out of state or just down the road, where you decide to live is the biggest and quite possibly the most stressful decision to make after choosing your school and area of study.

Considering the perspectives of current students is one of the most beneficial tools one can use when making a decision in regard to one’s living situation.

I interviewed two current University of Kentucky students. One is a sophomore who has exclusively lived off campus and the other is a junior who, for the last two years, has lived on campus. I went into these interviews with an open mind, looking to discover the benefits and faults of both experiences.

Rebekah Bolte, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, talked to me about what ultimately led her to decide to stay off campus her freshman year. “Since I was mainly paying for school by myself, I really needed something that I wasn’t paying thousands of dollars for all at once ... it was cheaper in the end," she said.

Financial issues and restrictions are often a huge factor in a lot of people’s college decisions. Living on campus at the University of Kentucky for a typical student can range between $4,000-$6,000 a semester. Taking that total into account, the average monthly cost of living on campus is between $800 to $1,200 a month. Without any aid or scholarships, that’s a lot of money for your typical college student, especially when you can find apartments for way cheaper. The financial aspect is often the most difficult part of moving to college.

Bolte also discussed some of the pros and cons of living off campus.

One point that stuck out as both an advantage and a disadvantage is the newfound sense of freedom and adulthood; you can do whatever you want, however, you’re now responsible for your own bills and income, a luxury many people may have had prior to moving out. Another con is commuting, which can become an issue, especially when inclement weather shows its face. A point we both could agree on is how tempting it is to stay home when it’s raining or when it’s really cold out — most people who actually live on campus barely want to walk in that, let alone if you have to commute to campus under these circumstances.

Looking at the other side, I spoke with Alexandra Adkins, a junior at the University of Kentucky who, aside from her first year, has lived on campus.

I was interested in hearing her perspective considering she’s done both. I concluded that she preferred her experiences living on campus as compared to the off-campus apartments.

She also touched on how, despite some of the shortcomings, she’ll continue to live on campus for the rest of her time as an undergraduate. A major factor in living on campus is how connected it makes her to campus.

“My freshman year I was a lot more detached … when I was done with class I would just go home. It’s a lot easier to meet more people and I’ve been more invested in on-campus activities,” she said.

A huge advantage of being on campus is that accessibility. Granted, Adkins also talked about the inconvenience of parking. Some dorms are right next to parking garages, but those can get very expensive.

One’s living situation going into college is dependent on many things, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what values and amenities matter the most to you. Is it the independence and freedom of living in your first apartment that sounds the most appealing to you? Or would you rather feel that close-knit connection to campus that living in a dorm often brings?

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