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Column: Why I regret choosing dorm life over commuting to campus

On-campus housing can't compete with less loans and the same experience

October 10, 2019
<p>Thousands of first-year students moved onto campus during the university’s official move-in day Aug. 26, 2018. </p>

Thousands of first-year students moved onto campus during the university’s official move-in day Aug. 26, 2018.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Going into my freshman year, I thought I needed to stay in the dorms. For convenience, the experience and everything in between. A little more than a month after I moved in, I came to the realization that maybe dorm housing wasn’t in my best interest.

Dorms are expensive. As an in-state student, between housing and a meal plan, your tuition could double. The cost of living in the dorms for just one semester is $5,136. If you were to stay in the dorms with a meal plan for even just two years here, you would be over another $20,000 in debt.  

For me, living in Holt and attending Holt High School, the trip to campus is 15 minutes, tops. The commute is similar for all neighboring areas of high schools around MSU. 

Finding myself at home more than I’m at the dorms, I have come to realize what I could’ve done differently this year.

There’s a certain part of you after graduating high school that seeks independence. Move out, be on your own in the dorms and find new experiences.  

But as a commuter, you will still have classes with new people and chances to go to all the games and events and travel to campus whenever you please. Being a commuter doesn’t mean you aren’t a student.

The parties will still be just a short drive away, and your friends’ doors will always be open. Dorm life won’t evade you if you choose to commute. The option to stop in at one of the dining halls or stay the night in a friend’s dorm will still be there. You won’t get the feeling of moving out, but the freedoms of college will still be the same, if not greater.

Commuting gives you options. Having your car means you don’t have to stay on campus every day of the week. You don’t have to take a $15 Uber to go to the mall. You won’t have to organize rides everywhere you go. You won’t even have to walk across campus to a class in the cold.

Choosing to save money doesn’t strip your independence. Commuting to campus makes sense if you live closely. The loans will be lighter when you graduate. Your college experience won’t suffer.

If you live close, get out. Save money, a lot of money. There is no shame in living at home when you can come out of college with more in your pockets.

Staying in the dorms might be the more independent thing to do. Overall, you will be on your own. But just because it is a change in lifestyle doesn’t mean it’s the smarter choice.

Granted, this is the opinion of a homebody, but its validity remains substantial. When you can save thousands and still make college the experience you want it to be, the question shouldn’t be about why you should stay in the dorms. It should be about why commuting might be the better option.

RELATED: Column: Woes of a commuter student

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