Home is where the heart is: off-campus vs. on-campus life


Molly O’Connor/Winonan

As the leaves on the trees begin to change color, it’s time for students to start thinking about a change in living arrangements.

Many students at Winona State University who currently live in residence halls will be in the process of finding a new place to live for next school year. Whether that is on campus in another residence hall or finding a house or apartment near campus, students will often decide early in the school year to guarantee housing for next year.

The question that remains: which housing situation is better? While residence halls guarantee access to Internet, cable television, a feeling of safety and more, the halls do not provide the sense of home that off campus housing does.

The pressure of finding a new place to live, especially off campus, can be a test of patience and endurance for many students, including sophomore Nicole Nicpon.

“I think the pressure with finding a house or a lease is crazy, especially if you are a freshman who wants to get out of a residence hall,” Nicpon said. “You don’t know people; you don’t know who you’re going to sign up with. It’s a lot of pressure to get a house so early.”

Nicpon, a Resident Assistant in Sheehan Hall, has enjoyed her time living in the convenience of a residence hall. Her second year in Sheehan has provided her with the many benefits of living on campus.

“It’s so convenient to live in a residence hall,” she said. “I mean, classes are right there.” The convenient location and the availability of staff, the safety and the friendly environment are all perks to living on campus in a residence hall.

However, when it comes to living on campus, students often miss the convenience of having their own bathroom and kitchen, the comforts of their own home.

“I can’t cook dinner. I really like cooking,” Nicpon said. “Sometimes if you just need to take a shower and there’s someone in there it’s annoying that you have to wait.”

Those homey comforts and that feeling of “going home at the end of the night”  were what Nicpon said is appealing about off-campus living.

“Here, especially as an RA, I never really leave work,” she said.

Off-campus living also allows students to enjoy more freedom than living in dorm rooms.

Senior Theo Wang, an off campus resident who lives about 10 blocks from main campus, said that living off campus allows students to have more control over their living situation compared to what can be done in residence halls.

“One big thing is that you can have people over.” Wang said. “I think also just having your own room, doing whatever to your walls and having your own space, you can feel like you belong.”

There are downsides to living off campus. For Wang, the distance from class can be a hassle as well as not having on-site laundry, but paying bills can be the least appealing part of living off campus.

“During the winter times, there is no way to heat up the entire apartment,” Wang said. “Last year we had to pay like $70 or $80 each.”

Some students looking for a middle ground, a place that incorporates the perks of both dorm rooms and their own apartments, choose to go with East Lake Apartments.

East Lake is an option that allows students to enjoy the free utilities, friendly environment and staff availability of a residence hall. At the same time, it allows some of the freedoms of an off campus house or apartment. It is, however, subject to the same regulations as on-campus apartments. Alcohol, for instance, is not allowed.

East Lake’s signup process, though similar to finding an off campus lease, eases the stress of finding a suitable place to live so early in the year.

“East Lake is kind of early, but I think it’s also late enough that you can make friends, and you can decide where to live,” Nicpon said.

As the season turns, more and more students will make their arrangements, and come next year, many will have a new place to call home.


Contact Molly at [email protected]