Between picking the type of college, location, and program of study, you have your hands full during the enrollment process. When you realize you need to choose college housing as well, it can feel like an overwhelming decision.
If you’re figuring out how to choose college housing that’s best for you, consider physical realities affecting space, privacy, convenience, and social interaction. Remember, you’re picking a campus setting that could be your home for years. Use the following tips to make sure to pick a place to live that supports your social, academic, and financial goals.
Get Answers to College Housing Questions
When it comes to college housing amenities and features, there is no official definition of “the basics.” There are, though, some basic questions you should ask before committing:
- Are there quiet study areas?
- Where is the laundry room?
- What kind of storage space is available?
- Where can you keep a bicycle?
- How about parking a car? (Is the route to the parking area well-lighted?)
- What are the in-room and on-grounds Internet, television, and telephone options?
- Is there a decent community entertainment room?
- Are there recreational amenities such as swimming pools and volleyball courts?
- How are room temperatures controlled?
- What are the maintenance call procedures and typical waits for repairs?
- Is housing single-gender or coed?
- How close is the campus bookstore? The library? Mail service?
- What are the rules on furniture? Appliances?
- What costs can I expect, including residency rates, laundry equipment and parking?
- What safety and security features are available? Is there a police force?
- What are the crime statistics on campus and in the host community?
Identify What You Really Need from Campus Housing
It’s easier to identify what you truly need from campus housing if you don’t confuse what you think you need with what you want. You might want a room with a large window and lovely view, but you may find the need for affordable living outweighs this desire. This process of weighing your wants versus your needs applies to the type of housing you pick as well.
Besides financial pros and cons, there are tons of arguments for and against living on campus, but the primary factors appear to be privacy and space. Privacy, space, and schedules are, in fact, at the heart of most successful relationships with a college roommate. Avoid conflict early on by doing an honest, thoughtful self-appraisal of your lifestyle and personality.
- Would you prefer the relative solitude of apartment-style living or a single?
- Will you thrive in the cramped hubbub of quad life?
- How many people do you want sharing your bathroom?
- Is a kitchenette a must because of dietary needs/desires/restrictions?
- Do you have special considerations that make sharing your space problematic?
- Are you in an important relationship that will suffer because of residence hall life?
The key to decision-making on housing is assessing space and privacy considerations and determining what will meet your true needs.
Be an Active Part of a Supportive Community
Most first year students are leaving their home and family structure for the first time, and that can be difficult. It’s why many colleges require students to use on-campus housing for at least the first year.
Yes, privacy and space take a hit in a residence hall, but there are a number of benefits as well:
- It provides structure shaped by clearly stated rules, creating a safety net for those away from home for the first time.
- It puts students close to others sharing the same experience, helping build friendships and support systems that can boost grades and quality of life.
- It keeps you in the loop on important school news and within easy reach of activities and events.
- It offers leadership opportunities for those willing to join one of the student councils or groups that govern residence hall life.
- It helps teach the skills needed to adapt and contribute to a vibrant student community.
Remember that the same system that can boost grades and morale can trap you in a grade-swamping riptide of social activity. It’s all about responsible choices before and after the campus housing experience begins.
Choose Housing that’s the Best Possible Fit
At USF, we offer several different housing options to make sure we can accommodate a diverse student population:
- Apartment Style: kitchen and bathroom shared by occupants of single- or double-occupancy bedrooms.
- Suite Style: single- and double-bedroom options with a variety of floor plans, each with a bathroom shared only by suite-mates
- Traditional Style: This is what most people envision as campus housing, a residence hall of mostly dual-occupancy bedrooms with a community bathroom on each floor.
Sorority and fraternity members typically have another option, living in Greek Village with their brothers or sisters. Several different Greek organizations at USF have a two- or three-story house with double-occupancy bedrooms, community bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen for the residents as well as a community pool and volleyball court.
Connect with Likeminded Peers in a Living Learning Community
The USF Living Learning Communities (LLC) approach to housing builds communities of like-minded students. LLCs at USF are grouped by major and by interest. This allows you to “connect with faculty and staff right in your residence hall, and enjoy experiences designed especially for you.”
LLCs by Major at USF
The LLC options by major at USF are Bulls Business, College of Nursing, COPH Bulls in Health, Education, Engineering, Judy Genshaft Honors College, Provost’s Scholars Program, Rising Health Professionals, Women A.R.E (Advanced and Rising in Engineering), and Zimmerman Advertising Program.
LLCs by Interest at USF
By interest, LLC housing options at USF are ROTC and Stonewall Suites (LGBTQ+).
Campus Housing Facts and Help Are Just a Click Away
Don’t miss “USF Housing LIVE!,” our online series that gives an inside glimpse into the residential experience at USF.
Still have questions about life as a Bull? Reach out to USF’s Housing and Residential Education team for more information.
About Joe Emerson
Joe Emerson spent 30 years as a magazine and newspaper reporter, editor and copyeditor who turned to freelancing after 20 years with The Tampa Tribune, which closed in 2016 after 125 years of serving the Tampa Bay area. Writing and delivering valuable information remain his passion.