Tag Archives: dorm room

The Great Debate: Living On-Campus or Off-Campus?

11 Jan

Where you live and who you live with can be one of the most important decisions you make each year. There are benefits and drawbacks of each option, but the best choice varies for each person. Taking stock of what you want in your housing, how you’re paying for it and the various perks it offers can help you find the right spot to call home for the next year.

While residence halls (dorms) are often the go-to for first-year students, they are not mandatory to live in. Apartments and houses are available for incoming students off-campus too, but often you’ll need roommates and finding them when you’ve only been to campus once for a tour can be difficult. But no matter how long you’ve been in school, it’s a decision you have to make every year and a little comparison can only help you make the best choice for you!

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One of the main differences between living on-campus & off-campus is the distance from your classes and buildings you need to visit. Living on-campus puts you in the closest proximity for getting to your classes, going to the co-rec, or making it to meetings with your advisor. Depending on how far you live off-campus this may or may not be an issue. If you live across the street from campus this is basically on-campus. However, if you’re a ways away you’ll have to rely on the buses, biking in, driving (if you’re quite a distance away), or just hoofing it. Unfortunately all of these options become a lot less fun when the weather goes cold.

Comparing prices between on-campus and off-campus can be difficult since there’s a wide range for both choices and difference in how you have to pay for them. On-campus residence halls and apartments are generally going to cost you more than living off-campus. However, the big difference many people neglect is how you pay for them. Payment for your housing (and meal plan) is due at beginning of the semester along with your tuition if you live on-campus. If you live off-campus in a house or apartment you will be making a payment each month. These monthly payments are typically much easier to pay out of pocket rather than having to come up with a whole semester’s housing all at once.

If you’re living off-campus, you’ll also want to pay attention to your utility bills in addition to your rent – a problem that living on-campus doesn’t have as it’s a fixed rate. Paying for things like heat, electricity and internet can bust your budget if you had not factored them in. Additionally your laundry situation can involve many things including nothing in your place, having coin-operated machines, or even the mythical free-to-use machines in a place where you don’t have to pay utilities.

One cost that you’ll have to pay for whether you live on or off-campus is your food. There’s no difference in the rates for meal plans where you live, but if you don’t live close to campus your plans to eat every meal in a dining hall probably won’t end up happening. As previously mentioned, your cost for a meal plan is due up-front at the beginning of the semester. Even if you have a meal plan it definitely won’t be your source for 100% of your food as you’ll probably buy snacks, go out to eat at a restaurant or grab food to go from another source at some point.

Possibly the biggest make-or-break part of anywhere that you live is your roommate. Rooming with someone you never met, or even your best friend, can be extremely difficult. Whether it’s sleeping a few feet from them in a dorm room or just sharing a kitchen and living room in an apartment, roommate issues are a frequent source of contention. While you do have the option to have your own place, it comes at a considerable cost both on and off campus. The showering situation in the residence halls might get a bit of flack but sharing a shower with a few of your friends and not cleaning it properly or often enough can make its own frightful situation.

The last major consideration is whether you plan on being around during the summer for classes, internships/ jobs, or just because. Most off-campus contracts are year-round so if you’re splitting back to your family’s home once classes end you’ll still be paying for your place at school. However, living in a residence hall and having summer classes can put you in a spot in having to find a sublease too. While it’s not usually too hard to find options since so many students would rather have someone sublet from them than have to pay their rent during the summer it’s not always the easiest to find a perfect situation to slide into.

Remember, you can use your financial aid to pay for living both on and off-campus! If you live on-campus you’re billed for housing along with tuition and it is due when classes start. This makes it extremely important to have your aid lined up for the beginning of the semester. If your aid doesn’t cover everything that you owe, you’ll need to find a way to cover the difference or create a payment plan with the Bursar’s Office. Any extra aid above what you are billed (whether you live on or off-campus) will be refunded to you. If you’re living off-campus it’s usually a good plan to put this toward your rent. Paying ahead can be great for lifting any worries for a while, just be sure to get a receipt if you do!

Dorm Decor for the Holidays

8 Dec

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

one unlit christmas light

Photo by: Juliancolton

Homesickness really does get the best of us sometimes. And as we get closer and closer to the holidays, sometimes it can feel a little, well, lonely. And even if we aren’t getting home sick, sometimes we just want more holiday cheer! Decorating your dorm room can be a great way to feel more festive and lift your spirits. It can also help relieve some of that homesickness. Decorations don’t need to leave you broke though, there are several ideas out there to decorate cheaply.

The residence halls don’t allow candles. But, scented things without a heating element like wall plug-ins are okay. Sometimes you can get really nice ones at places like Bath and Body Works, and then all you would need is refills. They last a really long time as well. Walking into a room that smells like fresh cinnamon apples in the fall or a sweet tropical smell near spring break really makes a person feel at home.

snowman door decoration

Photo via: solountip manualidades

You, or maybe your roommate, might have a mini fridge that could be decorated. Magnets are a fun and colorful way to create a cheerful environment. Magnets are just about everywhere! They go on sale in the bookstores, sometimes they are in the dollar section at Target, so just be on the lookout. You could be surprised with all the locations you can find magnets.

You know that loft bed that some of us in the dorms have? It’s pretty easy to hang decorations from under the bed. Ask your mom if she has a couple of extra ornaments she wouldn’t mind sparing and start hanging! Cut out some paper hearts and hang them under the bed for Valentine’s Day, or four leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, really whatever you would like.

As a general rule, most dorms (and other places) won’t let you hang things from the ceiling as it can be a fire hazard, but if you don’t have a loft bed don’t fret. Command Strips to the rescue! Hanging things on the wall is also a great way to add visual appeal. Cut out any design you want and put it on display. Hanging items on the wall also means less clutter on your desk and more space to do other things. A pack of construction paper is not too expensive either so let your creativity show.

paper snowflakes on window

Photo by: littlerayovsun

Lights are always a plus! Nothing is quite as magical as those twinkling lights. If you have a roommate, it would be a good idea to ask their opinion, but who doesn’t like lights? Just get some of the indoor, or tree decorating kind, and use command strips to safely hang them on your walls. Sometimes people have extra lights in the house, so feel free to ask around before you buy. Even if you have to end up buying them, decorative/strand lighting is pretty inexpensive. For those of you who are really savvy, you can actually change out the bulbs on some the strands for different holidays and occasions. Most strands require just a pair of pliers to switch the bulbs.

When decorating for the holidays, it doesn’t need to break the bank. There are lots of options out there. Decorating for the holidays is fun, easy, and can be a great way to help with homesickness. And, what’s nice is that as the seasons and holidays change, so can the decorations. Besides, a change of pace can help you feel refreshed and spread the holiday cheer!

Freshman Boot Camp Week 2: Dorm Decor

11 Aug

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Purdue Dorm Room

Moving to college is a big adjustment! Out on your own, on your own schedule, it’s a massive change, and one often accompanied by homesickness. Decorating your dorm room is a great way to get that “home away from home” feeling and help reduce your home town blues. You can achieve decorating greatness without breaking the bank! Here are some tips on decorating your room.

Talk to your roommate(s):

Who’s bringing what? Do you really need two microwaves, and two fridges, and two futons? Deciding who brings what can really help save on costs and space.

Photo by: Kelli Mullins

Photo by Kelli Mullins

Knick-knacks:

Honestly, dorm rooms are not suite-sized. There is only a finite amount of space within your room or within your space if you are sharing a room. Finding items that double as storage and decoration are often a good bet. For example, decorative jars to store small things on your desk or dresser top.  Not only are you saving money by not buying two separate items, but you also don’t need to buy/rent storage space for any extras.

Added advice: Command Strips are a life saver! Seriously, these things can be used for anything. Add a hook to one for a towel rack, or a necklace hanger. You can also hang wall art without damaging the walls. You would be amazed at all of the things that can be engineered with these things.

Furniture pieces:

Each residence hall comes with a bed, a desk, and a dresser. Do you need a futon and two chairs?  Probably not. Decide early with your roommate who’s bringing what and you can save space, confusion, time, and money. As a personal preference, one futon is awesome instead of two chairs. It’s a space saver and great to nap in…; can you say the same about two chairs?

Flooring:

Believe it or not, all dorm floors at Purdue are tile. In the summer that’s fine, but it can get a little chilly in the winter. While

Photo by:  Debbie Saenz

Photo by: Debbie Saenz

you can purchase a rug from any superstore, one of the best things I did for my dorm room was taking a trip to a carpet store. Left over pieces of carpet rolls are often discounted and buying the “scrap” is a cheap way to get a lot of floor covering and keep your feet warm! When I lived in Windsor, I got padded carpet that was left over from a carpet roll really cheap and it covered my floor completely. It’s definitely something to think about when pricing rugs.

Still lacking decoration inspiration? Check out some of these boards on Pinterest for some ‘pinspiration’ for your dorm this fall: this college’s dorm décor & DIY board, this girl’s dorm DIY board, and this blogger’s dorm décor board. Be sure to share any of your finds or advice below for other readers!

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