Living on or off campus

Bradley Schnitzer

It’s already week seven at Grand Valley State University, and everyone is all settled in to their housing units as midterms approach. Freshmen are used to their no-longer-new dorm rooms, while older students are done decorating their off-campus apartments or townhouses. Older students can opt to live on campus, just as freshmen can choose off-campus housing for a different environment. But which is better- on campus or off campus? As a student who has done the former and is still adjusting to the latter, I’ll examine what each option has to offer.


The majority of students at GVSU start off their college career living in the dorms on the north end of campus, an area famously known as “Freshman Land.” This type of living situation is meant to help freshmen transition from being a teenager to being an adult. Kleiner Commons is a minute’s walk away from even the furthest dorm in Freshman Land, Robinson Living Center. In fact, anything on campus is a reasonable walk away if students are in an on-campus living center. While many on-campus students are freshmen, older students can take advantage of living on campus, as well.

The South Apartments are on the opposite side of campus from the freshman dorms. While they are a bit further away from the center of things, everything is still within walking distance. The Connection is a convenient place to grab some food, and the academic buildings are just a little bit farther. The Laker Village Apartments and the Ravine Apartments are other options for upperclassmen who want to say close. Downtown at the Pew Campus, the dorm buildings are near the campus as well. Winter and Secchia Hall are conveniently right across the street from the DeVos Center, where a dining hall, the bookstore and some classrooms are located.


Once a student has served their time living on campus, they have a host of choices for living off-campus. Perhaps they joined a fraternity or sorority, and they want to live in their chapter’s Greek house. Maybe they want to experience the independence of apartment living. Either way, living off-campus means a huge increase in responsibilities. All of a sudden, students have to pay rent, set up utilities, find transportation to campus and perhaps even buy their own groceries. Although having all these responsibilities may sounds like a pain, people end up learning a lot of useful life skills. In addition, there is more freedom and independence living off-campus.

Obviously, it is required to follow the rules set in the lease. However, students now have their own place. The rules are probably less strict than in the dorms, so they can live their life and express themselves more freely. There’s also a sort of charm to having a little place away from campus where one can escape the stresses of the school day. For students who want to live downtown, get some friends together and live in a house a bit further away from campus. This can be quite a learning experience, as they have a whole house to maintain. In the end, it can be extremely fun.

So, there are advantages to choosing either type of living situation. Whether students want to have the convenience of campus being right outside their door or desire the independence and freedom of living off campus, they will get to meet all kinds of interesting people and experience great things during their time at GVSU. These are some things to think about as many off-campus locations are accepting applications and on-campus housing is starting to fill up for next fall.