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Get A Handle On Housing





The decisions around accommodations for living are among the most critical and the most difficult facing new college students, regardless of the ease with which information on all the options and alternatives can be found. Search engines can bring a wealth if information instantly to their fingertips, but how to assess and evaluate the options are counselors really shine.

Clarification, priorities, comparisons and recommendations are most helpful in this area, so we’ll lay these out as a process for success.

I Can See Clearly Now: Clarity Wins The Day

When students are starting college, housing away from home provides the most effective introduction and transition to self sufficiency. It’s a huge transition with lots of moving parts. On-campus housing is a standard feature of traditional colleges and universities, although many students may not know that nearly a dozen California Community Colleges also provide on-campus housing. So they’ll get all the benefits of community college – lower costs, less impacted classes, accelerated learning, and more – with the added benefits of independent living away from home *and* on campus.

Getting clear on – and prioritizing – housing needs, wants, and desires is absolutely key when helping students with their college life planning decisions.

If This, Then That: Setting Priorities

Priorities are conditions and restrictions that influence and impact the decision making process. This one’s easy. Looking at things like distance to campus and classes, amenities, security, etc., on-campus housing wins hands down. Proximity to where the student needs to be, what’s included with occupancy, if dedicated security is available, all key aspects to consider when determining what’s most important for one’s first experience at independent living. When considered in the context of rent, setting other key priorities really helps the on campus housing decision making process take shape pretty quickly.

All The Same Things Are Not All The Same:
Comparisons Expose Key Differentiators

Is single occupancy even an option? What about full bathrooms? Are utilities included? How big are the apartments/dorms/rooms? What about TV and Internet access? After getting clear on what’s available out there, and dialing in what’s most important, it’s time to you’ll realize that not all on campus housing is created equal. Now you can evaluate what’s out there and what’s important in the context of who offers what.


After determining academic priorities, getting a handle on housing is the most important decision facing the new college student. The strongest recommendations we can offer:

  • Plan and prioritize questions: needs, then wants, then wishlist
  • Take notes throughout the process: helps when they..
  • Make lists to help refine and compare: pros, cons, and priorities

Here are a few resources to help students evaluate housing:

Community College On-Campus Housing Rental Comparison

Off-Campus/On-Campus Living Comparison

Cost of the Commute

Food Cost Estimator


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