Colleges should stop mandating on-campus living

By Jamie Barrett | Reporter

Currently, it is mandatory for all first-year students at Baylor to live on campus, but what is the reasoning behind this? According to Baylor, it is “for first-year students to live and grow together and find their place.” However, I find that in some cases, the benefits of on-campus living do not always outweigh the drawbacks. Here are some reasons why I believe mandatory on-campus living should be reconsidered.

It’s been my experience that off-campus living creates community just as well as on-campus living. Most students who live off campus do so with their friends or a group of people, allowing them to live and grow together. In most cases, this living situation is more ideal than sharing a singular room with someone because everyone involved is given their own space, meaning less opportunity for arguments among roommates and an easier living situation for all involved.

This is one of the main reasons why I believe off-campus living benefits most people more. It is common and normal for people in close proximity to grow agitated or irritated with one another or their actions. I have heard countless roommate horror stories that started off with them being friends and loving the idea of being able to live together. Fast forward to the end of the year, and they are no longer friends because of roommate disagreements along the way.

Now, I am not saying this is the case for all people, but for a lot, this is the reality. Being in a single room with someone for about nine months can make even small pet peeves, like clothes left on the ground, the last straw to end a friendship.

Off-campus living is also, in most cases, cheaper than on-campus living. Many students already work a job on top of classes, but even with that, most, if not all, need either parental or financial aid help to afford their campus lifestyle. Living off campus with people and sharing rent is incredibly less expensive and takes away one more stressor from first-year students.

Most often, it is the personal space issue that drives most students away from on-campus living. Sharing a small space with someone consistently pushes students to feel the need to go back home on weekends to “get away,” spend more money on gas and miss weekend fun in Waco with friends. Most people need alone time and a place to just relax and decompress, but in dorms, it can be hard to do that. Whether it’s your roommate in the room, other residents in study rooms or common areas, etc., finding a place to be alone on campus can be hard. Living off-campus allows students to have this safe space for themselves while also hanging out with friends and having company.

Overall, mandatory on-campus living for first-year students is not benefiting all students the way it’s advertised, and for many, off-campus living will be more profitable in the long run. Things like building a community and achieving academic success are all possible with off-campus living, and maybe schools should stop mandating on-campus living for those of us who would benefit from a different approach.