With the noticeable internationalization of higher education in North America and across the world comes the increasing importance of student organizations on campus whose goal is to provide a positive and everlasting experience for incoming students. These organizations exist to make the incoming students’ transitions as seamless as possible. They often do so by organizing immersion events and by providing students with information about life on and off campus.
One piece of information that international students are often puzzled with is one about student housing. Off-campus or residence housing? How would you, as the international exchange council, go about answering this question if an international student were to ask you about it? When would it be advantageous to live in residence versus renting an apartment for the first time? And why? We have created a list of 4 factors that may tip the balance in one way or the other. Here are some ideas to answer that question:
1) THE EXPERIENCE
Most students will argue that living in residence facilitates networking with other students. First-year students are often suggested to live in residence for at least one year to account for this. Living off campus when you don’t know anyone will certainly cause some students to feel a bit lonely for the first few weeks.
RESIDENCE 1 - OFF CAMPUS 0
2) THE RULES
Residence halls everywhere usually have a set of rules to be respected to avoid disturbing fellow hallmates. For example, a 11PM silence curfew can be implemented during final exams period. Another example would be that students would not be allowed to invite friends over after a certain hour. These rules can be a pain considering some students leave their parents’ house wishing to gain some independence. Living off campus allows students to make their own rules - as long as your landlord can deal with it.
RESIDENCE 1 - OFF CAMPUS 1
3) THE PRIVACY
Living off campus has one important perk. Students get to live peacefully - something that would never be fathomable when living on campus. When it’s study time during exam period, the libraries are often full and distractions can abound when in residence. Moreover, students can enjoy personal bathrooms and showers in personal apartments. No sharing, no caring.
RESIDENCE 1 - OFF CAMPUS 2
4) THE LOCATION
Imagine your bed was a 10-minute walk away from your classroom. This would mean more time to study, more time to party and more time to procrastinate late at night. Wouldn’t that just be great! This is a huge plus of living in residence. You can almost crawl to your class and back to bed afterwards without missing a minute of class time. Proximity is a factor that international students could definitely welcome.
RESIDENCE 2 - OFF CAMPUS 2
So next time you get asked this question, take all of these factors into consideration and give a wise and balanced answer. It all depends on what the student is looking for. Which factors does he/she prioritize? In the end, your organization is there to guide the student into making his/her own decisions. And with the diversification of the campus landscape, your role as a campus guide will take a greater importance!