Should I Live on Campus or Commute?

No matter where you go to college, deciding whether to live on campus or commute is a big decision. At JWU, students have a lot of options for living arrangements — especially because both our Providence, Rhode Island, and Charlotte, North Carolina campuses sit in the center of bustling cities. About half of our student population commutes, while the other half opt to live in campus housing. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option, but it’s all about what will work best for you!  

Don’t worry — with JWU as an example, we’re here to break down both options with a classic pro/con list that can help you no matter where you go. 

Living on Campus  

A JWU dorm room


1. Campus life is right outside your door 

When you live on campus, you’re always just steps away from all the fun activities, new friends, and community life that make our campuses so exciting. If you like to be where everything is happening, living on a JWU campus would be great for you.  

2. You’ll be close to classes and anything else you need 

The convenience factor of living on campus should not be underestimated. At both of our campuses, your classes, residence halls, and campus resources are all within walking distance. So, if you slept through your alarm and you’re running late for class, it’s only a quick walk (or a really quick run) away. The Providence Campus is actually split between Downcity and the more culinary-focused Harborside, but a free shuttle can take you back and forth in minutes!  

3. Roommates can often become your best friends, and you can bring your pet! 

We’re rolling two pros into one because we all know how important it is to have the right roommate (human or animal.) For many students, the roommate(s) they have in their first year of college end up becoming some of their best friends. Together, you can make the transition to college and learn how to navigate college life. As for pets, JWU was recently named one of the most pet-friendly universities by helloBARK! because both of our campuses offer pet-friendly residence halls so that students can head to college with their furry friend by their side.  


1. You might not get along with your roommate(s) 

Just as your roommate becoming your bestie is a pro, not getting along with your roommate can be a major con to living on campus. You never really know how things will go until you move in and get to know each other. But, if they turn out to be the kind of person you don’t want to live with, you might have to stick it out for the entire school year. 

2. Residence hall units can have limited styles and configurations 

Though all residence hall rooms are clean and come furnished with beds, desks and wardrobes, you might find yourself limited in how you can make the space your own. You can decorate the walls and have some fun with your bedding, but the room layouts don’t always offer the opportunity to move furniture around. If you’re looking for more space, the larger units are designated for three- to four-plus occupants — meaning the more space you get, the more roommates you have.  

3. Residence halls have rules that you have to follow 

Your parents would certainly consider this a pro, but you might not enjoy the rules that can come with some residence halls, especially for first-years and sophomores. Room checks, monitored visitor policies, or strict Resident Assistants (RA’s) might make you feel like you have less freedom than you were expecting from college life. 

 Student on their phone walking on campus


1. You’ll have more freedom to live where you want 

This may be an obvious pro but living off-campus means you can live wherever you’d like. Depending on how far and through which mode of transportation you’d prefer to travel, you can stay close by in one of Providence or Charlotte’s many neighborhood areas or explore nearby cities and towns to find the right place for the right price.   

2. Commuting may cost less 

Speaking of price, some students who already live within driving distance to campus opt to continue living at home to save money. But, if you’d prefer to strike out on your own, you could find an apartment big enough to get some roommates and split the cost of rent, which could potentially cost less than living on campus. 

3. You still have all the same access to JWU resources, plus dedicated commuter resources  

No matter where they live, every JWU student has access to all the same resources on campus, such as the free fitness center, health services, counseling services and more — but commuters also have their own dedicated resources. The Providence Campus has an Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS) office, while the Charlotte Campus has an Associate Dean of Campus Life. Both are always available to help commuters navigate off-campus living and provide guidance for academic and personal development.   


1. You may feel disconnected from what’s happening on campus 

For some commuters, living off-campus can sometimes make them feel like they’re missing out on certain elements of the college experience. Commuter resources promote and encourage commuters to get involved on campus but, if you aren’t the type of person who goes out of their way to get involved in things, you may still feel a disconnect. 

2. Finding the right place to rent can be stressful 

If you choose to find your own place to rent, remember that apartment hunting isn’t always easy. What can you afford? How many roommates do you want/need? What amenities are included? Is the landlord a weirdo? Though JWU has resources in place to help you with your apartment hunt, it’s still up to you to determine what location, price, and arrangement will work best for you. 

3. You have to factor commuting into your schedule  

When it comes to building their class schedule, commuters may have to be a little more strategic. If you have a long commute or you’re the type of person who always seems to run late (I’m with you!), an early morning class might not be the best idea. Commuting time will always be a factor in how you build your daily schedule. 

In the end, the decision to live on campus or commute is all about what will work best for you personally. If you’re coming to JWU, both options will still allow you to experience a diverse community that works hard to make sure every student feels like they belong.  

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