If you are a recent Junior College, International Baccalaureate, or Polytechnic graduate, the next few months will likely be a busy period for you. While some might be serving the nation, there are others who will be preparing for their next big step in life – university.
There are many decisions and arrangements that need to be made as you gear yourself up for this new adventure. Besides deciding on your course of study, you might also be exploring your scholarship and co-curricular activity (CCA) options. And if you have your sights set on National University of Singapore (NUS) or Nanyang Technological University (NTU), another aspect to consider is your university accommodation.
While many undergraduates opt to stay in the university's Halls of Residence, there are others who prefer the sweet familiarity of their own homes. Here, we weigh the pros and cons of residing in both venues.
The Hall room fee per person ranges from S$245 to S$800, depending on room type. It is generally cheaper to bunk with a roommate, as you will have to fork out at least S$100 more for a single occupancy room.
Air-conditioned rooms will cost more; as well as rooms that are located in newer and more sophisticated buildings. If you love ice cream and cold drinks, refrigerators are available at a cost. Hall residents are also required to subscribe to meal plans, which comprise breakfast and dinner.
On the flipside, you will not need to pay rent fees if you live at home. Home-cooked meals also mean that you can save money on food! However, your transport expenses will be considerably higher than your Hall peers, who would not need to travel to and from school every day. Which brings us to the next point…
More often than not, Hall residents live far away from their universities. Halls offer convenience as less time and energy will be spent on daily commute. If you live in Changi, travelling to NTU for a 9am lecture means that you might have to wake up between 6-7am.
Your Hall room can also be your second home, one in which you are free to study and unwind in. If you have a three-hour break, you can even head back to your Hall room to catch up on assignments or take a nap!
As a Hall resident, you will be expected to partake in CCAs and Hall activities to gain Hall points and maintain your spot there. Many Hall residents tend to get overzealous in the first semester and join a variety of clubs. While there is nothing wrong with being an active Hall member, you should be aware of how you spend your time. Striking a balance between CCAs and grades can be stressful, so be sure to prioritise your daily tasks and goals.
Non-residents are not required to participate in such activities and hence, they might be able to focus more on their studies. They will also get to spend more time with their family and friends outside of school.
At the same time, being involved in Hall activities will add fun and flavour to your campus life. It is common to see Hall residents heading out for supper or jogging around the campus together. Hall residents are essentially part of a close-knit community – one that non-residents would not get to be a part of. Indeed, the friendships you forge will definitely make your university experience a lot more memorable.
So, Which Should You Choose?
It all depends on your goals, budget, personality type, and personal preference. Hall residents have to pay rent fees, but they get to enjoy a vibrant campus life and broaden their social network in school. Of course, that is not to say that non-residents will have a boring time in school. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to actively seek out opportunities to learn and grow.
Additionally, some students are comfortable living away from their family while others might get homesick easily. If you are not comfortable living with strangers – or going to a communal toilet and shower room – then Hall life may not be for you.