Is on-campus living worth the cost?

The pros and cons of dorm life

By Netty Jurriaans | February 28, 2023 12:00pm
After this year, UP students will be required to live on campus for two years. Prior to this change, only first year students were required to live in the dorms.
Media Credit: Emma Sells / The Beacon

At the beginning of every school year hundreds of students flood into their new dorm rooms. Communal bathrooms, roommates and twin XL beds become a new norm for college students. Living on campus can be a unique and appreciated experience, but is it worth it?

Residence halls are currently 75% full, and in an effort to increase dorm capacity and student revenue, a two year on-campus residency will be required beginning with the class of 2027. 

The Beacon talked to UP students and hall staff about the pros and cons of living on campus. 

On-campus students 

Sophomore Ingrid Fellows is an elementary education major living in a Lund Family Hall suite with four roommates. The largest factor in the decision to stay on campus was the convenience in its location. 

The proximity to campus and not having to deal with the difficult process of finding a house off campus often seals the deal for students who decide to stay in the dorms after freshman year. 

Fellows has also been able to find a sense of community in the dorms. According to her, it's easy to see friends and make new ones when living so close to everyone. 

While she has appreciated the community and convenience of the dorms, she also acknowledges there can be some drawbacks. 

“It's nice to feel like you're a part of a community, but it kind of gets old after freshman year,” Fellows said. 

The expenses of room and board, communal bathrooms and dining hall food are all factors that Fellows would consider as cons. These aspects of on-campus life played a part in her decision to move off campus for her junior year. 

Living off campus also comes with a greater sense of independence and responsibility that often lacks in the dorms. 

“You don't get as much freedom [living in the dorms] in a way and it feels very confined,” Fellows said. 

Off-campus students

Sophomore Lily Merizon is a social work student living off campus this year. Merizon previously lived in Lund Family Hall but decided to move into a house for her sophomore year. 

“I found a place to live that was much cheaper than living on campus and it was just better for me financially,” Merizon said. “I haven't found the food to be that great on campus and I was really excited to cook meals for myself and just be able to live more independently.”

For Merizon, her time in the dorms was well spent and she loved her freshman year in Lund. However, there were more factors motivating her to move off campus than keeping her on. 

“I think that University of Portland dorms have a great community and you can foster friendships in the dorm that you can then take to living in a house with your friends,” Merizon said.

Living in the dorms was a positive experience where she was able to become part of a community and make friends. But with factors such as expenses, food and independence, she found that off-campus living suits her better. 

“I feel like the dorms aren't for everybody all the time,” Merizon said. “They were for me the first year and I really enjoyed my time, but I do think that once you live off campus, it's really nice to be more independent.”

Sophomore Sarah Alderson is a nursing student also living off campus this year. Alderson lived in Shipstad Hall her freshman year and now lives in a house with friends. 

“Living in the dorms is the best way to be integrated with the UP community,” Alderson said. “I loved making friends in the dorm, it's just such a unique experience that we can't get anywhere else.”

Similar to Fellows, a positive aspect of on-campus living Alderson enjoyed was the proximity to all the academic buildings and feels that living in the dorms is more convenient than living off campus. 

While Alderson decided to move off campus she sometimes wishes she stayed on campus for one more year. 

“I would not have been opposed to staying in the dorms one more year,” Alderson said. “I think it's because I had such a positive first year experience and I was okay with my living situation.”

Hall staff 

Jenna Morgan is the new Hall Director in Lund Family Hall. She has fond memories of her time living in dorms and wants to provide students with the same sense of community that she found. 

“There is a whole team of people here who have dedicated many hours of their work and lives to really supporting students,” Morgan said. “Students know that they have a place here on campus and people who are here to support them and root for them in just a different way than it would look off campus.”

Morgan finds that living on campus gives students many opportunities that they would not receive off campus. 

“For many students, particularly in those first two years, it's really nice to have opportunities  provided for them in the hall so that they can focus on their own personal development,” Morgan said..

The support system available in dorms is unlike an off-campus experience. Resident and community assistants are there to build the community within the dorm. Other hall staff members, like pastoral residents, are there to provide support for students in any aspect needed to promote a healthy and happy environment to live in.

“I think one of the greatest things about living in a residence hall is that community,” Morgan said. “There is the ability to have people from all different majors and all different years living together under one roof — there's a lot of opportunity to build relationships and engage in your  community.” 

Netty Jurriaans is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at