Dorm Room or Apartment: Prepping Your Kids For College Life

Getting ready to send your kids off to college can be an exciting time in the life of your family. Big decisions are being made about where to attend school and what kind of living arrangements you will need to set up. For many students, it’s the dorm life for at least the first year, especially if you are sending them out of state. Living on campus can have its advantages for the first year of college, especially if it’s in a new place.

Apartment living has its benefits as well. With more independence and often cheaper prices, it can be tough to know which is best for your kids. In many cases, it’s just about personal preference, and in others, it’s about affordability and convenience.

Off campus housing can range from student adapted residences to private apartments. There are many options to choose from in college towns that cater to the housing needs of students. Deciding what is best for your situation is up to you. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of both situations to help you make a more informed decision.


The dorm fees at most college institutions are all-inclusive prices. A standard shared dorm room will come with basic furnitures such as a bed, desk, and dresser. There are no utility bills to worry about, and in some cases, a meal plan is included in the cost. You will be paying for far less square feet than you would be in a private apartment in most cases, but you are also getting a place that is right on campus.

With an off-campus apartment, you have the option of sharing the space with a roommate or going in on your own. You will have to take the rent, utilities, transportation, and food budget into consideration when you are looking at prices. The disadvantage is that you may have to sign and pay for a lease for a full calendar year and lose money on the months that you are not in school if you are going home for the summer break.

Amenities & Features

Most dorm facilities have everything that is needed to be comfortable while your kids are staying at school, such as private bathrooms, cleaning staff, security guards and close proximity to all of the classes. Most dorm students sign up for the meal plan so food is taken care of as well.

The amenities available in a private apartment are dependent on the kind of building that you are renting in. Your child will have their own space and privacy along with other options like a pool or fitness room that may be on site.


College is a big change for most kids and the first opportunity for independence and freedom from the family, but there are still plenty of rules. The dorm system has built-in rules and regulations that are meant to keep things running smoothly and safely. There may be a curfew or rules about guests in the rooms, and you generally have no say over the roommate that is chosen.

A private apartment is a good opportunity for the first taste of real independence. Your college kid will get to have a sense of freedom and control over many of their own decisions. It’s a great chance to gain valuable life experience with no heavy outside monitoring.

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