Point/Counterpoint | Should freshmen live in the residence halls?
Opinions editor Sophia Meador and columnist Evan Weidl debate on the best living option for freshmen.
August 23, 2022
Let’s be honest — the residence halls are a rip-off.
For more than $7,400 a year if you’re looking at a double room, you get a shared bedroom, public bathroom and 200 Hawk dollars. Unless you live in Parklawn or Mayflower, you will probably pay least $1,800 for a dining plan in addition to the room cost.
But you could also pay less than $6,500 a year for rent if you split a 3 bedroom, 1 bath apartment just ½ block away from east side dorms.
While some may argue that living in the residence halls is quintessential to the freshman experience, students who live off-campus their first year can still part-take in the freshman year experience with events like OnIowa!. They also have access to campus amenities like the rec center, student health and libraries.
Although sharing a residence hall with fellow freshmen can be an easy way to meet people, this can isolate individuals from meeting more students who live elsewhere.
I know myself, like many others, made quick friends with neighbors in the residence halls. But most of the friendships I made with people in my hall were not long-term because we met other individuals with more shared interest.
Living-off campus can make it harder to meet fellow freshmen. But it forces you to make friendships with people you might have otherwise not sought out, just like you have to in the “real-world.”
Residence halls can be a good transition from Mom and Dad’s house to living independently. But with resident assistants, dining halls and janitors, freshmen are not experiencing what living independently is actually like for the majority of adults.
You get far more bang for your buck living off-campus. So no, the residence halls are not the best living option for freshmen.
Living in dorms should be mandatory because it is the perfect balance between independence and security.
For freshmen, college seems like an entirely different planet. From eating in dining halls to navigating the campus to find their classes, these new experiences that help prepare students for the rest of their lives.
Living with a roommate and with many, many other people in the building makes making friends and building a new social life in an unfamiliar place very easy.
It is inevitable that some students will not like the experience of living in the dorms. However, in order to learn what you want to do with your life, you cannot just do things you know you like; you have to try some things you may not like.
Dorms also provide a comfortable transition to living in an apartment or house.
Having amenities such as meal plans and resident assistants help make living on your own more manageable, and gives students a chance to ease into living independently without having to deal with the stress of house/apartment hunting, leases, utilities, landlords, etc.
The benefits of living in a dorm are largely realized in hindsight. If you sign a lease your freshman year and find out just how stressful living in a house or apartment can be, or you are not exposed to the social benefits of a dorm, that is not a decision that can be undone.
Living in the dorms for first-year students is an easy choice for their personal growth, and for the good of their future at college.