Cost of Res vs. Campus Experience

We got a great question on our previous post “Should I Live on Residence During University” and we decided it was worthy of a blog response! The question was:

I have a question, my step mother is stressing me out about the constant costs of residence and would prefer me to stay home to save money. like i hear what she is saying but like i really want that first time experience and to say “hey i lived on campus before”. And she is also stressing me out that i need a job, if i am going to live on campus….

I don’t know what to do!


Hi Whitney,

Great question. Actually, I was in the same situation and so have many of our other writers – we have had parents that didn’t want me to live on campus, because of the cost. Totally get your position.

Here are some of your options:

1. Live at Home, and Get Involved in Other Ways: Campus life is very much what you make of it – in fact, I found I was involved much more in campus activities when I was living at home, rather than on campus, where I tried to get away from it all. What you really want is not “Hey, I have lived on campus before” – its more about “Hey, I got the campus life experience while I was studying at university”. And you can get that experience whether or not you live on campus by getting involved in clubs, volunteering, and participating in extra-curricular activities.

Further, it might be worth trying out travelling for first year, and if it really isn’t working, you can jump to number two, three, or four.

2. Live on Campus, and Convince your Parents to Pay: If you really feel residence is the right choice for you, then make your case. You may have to do so by creating a plan which can include Number 3 (getting a job) and really make the benefits clear to your parents (benefits besides getting the “campus experience”) – but its worth appealing to reason. Will living on campus reduce your commute times significantly? Could it increase your grades? Will it keep you safer because you don’t have to worry about travelling home after late night classes? Parents think about all of this, and you might be able to make a valid case.

3. Live on Campus, and Subsidize the Cost with a Job: Choose the cheapest residence, and get a job – an interesting option that requires a balance, especially during first year. University is already a step, and working while studying is challenging, but not impossible. If you do choose this option, choose your job carefully (a tough thing to do in this economy) – and think about things like: how far is my job from my house or school? Do the hours of the job conform to my study habits? What is the pay like, and are there new expenses caused from my job (e.g. cost of transit to get to and from work), etc.

Are there alternatives? Can you work during the summer and put that to the residence cost? What about using loan money? What is the best (not the easiest) way to subsidize the cost?

4. Live near Campus, but Not in Residence: Check out our post “Should I live On Residence Part II” which will help you brainstorm alternative options to res, that might be cheaper.

Those are our suggestions – hope it helps! If anyone else has any suggestions – or questions of their own, please place your comment in the comment box below!


Surviving Studenthood


One response

  1. Okay, I’m actually curious about my situation:
    I am living on campus as a freshman and I’m not exactly liking the residence…. At all.
    The cost to stay in my dorm, which is the cheapest and lowest end, is almost $5000. My roommate is constantly asking me to let her borrow things like a nail clipper or my textbook when I need it. I don’t mind sharing but it’s stuff that is a little bit much and isn’t there a line for what to borrow and what not to? My parents paid a lot of money for the things and supplies in my room. She didn’t even bring more than two notebooks with her or even look up her books until I bought mine.
    Food wise… Some of the stuff here does not agree with my stomach and it gets really crazy during meal times. (And the taste could be better but I know that’s how college is)
    Don’t get me wrong, I love the classes and have friends but our schedules and assignments keep us all busy. So I feel really lonely most of the time.
    But what’s been really bothering me is the fact that I’m paying $5000 when I live less than 45 minutes away when I’ve made longer trips during the summer for a single class at a community college, and that I am so confined to the campus.

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