Pros and Cons to Commuter Schools and Dorm Living


Each year, thousands of students attend colleges and universities across the country. These students choose schools for a number of reasons, including whether the school is commuter-based or offers on-campus living.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios. Explore the benefits and downfalls of living arrangements before a decision is made.

Dorm Living

College is oftentimes a young adult's first step toward independence. Before heading off to college, kids are typically housed, fed and clothed entirely by Mom and Dad. The rules of the household would have to be met, and there may have been little room for personal space.

College students are responsible for their own meals, scheduling and basic care. Parents are not around to cater to their child's every need, and kids also have the freedom to choose their own friends.

While dorm living is advantageous to some, it can be difficult for others to adapt. Individuals who are not self-regulated may find that not having an authority figure around causes them to become lax in their studies and overall demeanor. They may spend more time socializing than focusing on education. They also may learn a hard lesson about managing finances.

Dorm living is also costly. There will  be extra expenses for dorm rental, furnishings, food and other necessities. Also, roommates are common at most dormitories, and there's no guarantee that roommates will prove compatible.

Living on campus can also instill feelings of isolation and homesickness in some students. Such students often miss the support system of home and have trouble adapting to their new surroundings.


Commuting to school has advantages as well, most notably the financial benefits. Students and their families won't have to pay extra for a dorm room or apartment living by the school, and they can still enjoy meals at home and the conveniences of home life.

Commuter schools are generally located in cities or towns with higher populations and means of transportation to get to the school. Attending this type of school means students are not restricted to on-campus activities or school functions. Students can come and go as they please and still have their "outside of school" life that you may be used to.

Comfort is also a benefit many students enjoy when commuting to school. Commuter students can study in the quiet of their own room and not be subjected to the sounds and events going on around the dorm. Students also don't have to share a space with a roommate or wonder about safety issues from on-campus living.

However, many argue that commuter schools don't offer the same college experience as ones where students live away from home. When commuting to school, students are typically still living at home. Those still living at home are governed by parents' rules and regulations and may not feel as independent as their on-campus counterparts. Also, commuters often don't feel the same involvement in the campus community as those who live on campus. When faced with attending pep rallies, sports games or campus events, commuters might be less likely to partake in these activities.

Commuting to school also requires students to factor the time it takes to get to and from the campus into their schedule, a consideration for students who are not used to commuting. Those without a vehicle of their own might find the commute especially difficult and time-consuming.

Commuter schools and full-service campuses can each provide a quality education as well as distinct advantages and disadvantages depending upon the student. Students should keep these factors in mind when choosing their university or college.


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