The pros and cons of living on campus and off campus


Zulfiqar Ahmed

Grant Towers at NIU, a dorm complex that houses students in double and single rooms (left), and a ground view of One Bennett Park Apartments, 451 Grand Avenue in Chicago (right) (Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star)

By Bailey Eschbach, Lifestyle Writer

The majority of college students will experience living in a dorm, apartment or both. For students trying to figure out the best living situation, it can be difficult to figure out the positives and negatives of both before making a decision. Here are some student opinions on living on campus versus off campus.

On-campus choices

NIU has five different dorm options for students: New Hall, Gilbert Hall, Grant Towers, Stevenson Towers and Neptune Hall. 

Very un-ironically named, New Hall is the newest dorm option for students. The cost of living at New Hall East or West is by far the most expensive dorm option on NIU’s campus. 

New Hall has pods where 12 students share a living room area and half-kitchen. There are six separate dorms within the pod where two students share a bathroom and each student has their own room with their own closet. The residence hall also has a food court in between the two buildings and its own gym and study area within that same building. 

“I lived in New Hall in 2019 and it was nice to be on campus and living with so many other students, but I definitely don’t miss the dining hall food or the long walk to my classes,” said Michael Paton, a junior business major who now lives in an apartment off campus. 

Gilbert Hall is available for all students other than first-years and is located much closer to the center of campus than New Hall, Grant or Stevenson Towers. In this dorm you will have better food options, but will have a shared room with another roommate. The bathroom and showers were recently renovated as well as the floor of the dorm rooms. The most unique feature of Gilbert Hall is the outdoor patio connected to the dining hall. 

Grant and Stevenson Towers are nearly the same in all aspects. The only difference between the two buildings is that Grant Towers does not have a dining hall. These dorms are one of the cheaper options for students and the underwhelming appearance of the rooms and bathrooms are a clear reason for the cheaper price.

Neptune Hall is located in the center of campus and contains one of the best dining halls and a unique lounge area for students. The cheapest option of all of the dorms on campus, Neptune has both single and double rooms.

Off-campus choices

For students looking for off-campus housing, there are a multitude of apartment options around DeKalb. For many apartments, the cost is cheaper for a 12-month lease than eight months in a dorm on campus. 

There aren’t as many restrictions as some apartments allow pets and if you have an apartment all to yourself, you’ll also have your own bathroom.

“I love the freedom that comes with living off campus, but I definitely miss having so many other students around,” said Mitchell Chambers, a senior biology major. “I’m glad I can light a candle and cook with more than just a microwave too.”

Apartments come with many responsibilities, but some of the best parts of living off-campus are the freedom to come and go as you please and more cooking options.

If you’re looking for more affordable options for housing during college, an apartment is definitely the way to go. Living in a dorm allows you to meet more people on campus and not have to pay for rent and NIU’s dorms definitely provide a level of safety that some apartment complexes don’t. What’s important is that you figure out which option fits your needs and lifestyle the best.