Expectation v. Reality: Living on Campus

Expectation v. Reality Blog Post graphic

Whether you are an incoming first-year student, a transfer student or a current student, living on campus is a great option for housing while taking classes at the U. Living on campus is typical for first-year students and can be the source of your lifelong memories. There are many benefits of staying on campus while you earn your college degree, but there are also many misconceptions. When I was an incoming first-year student, I watched all of the YouTube videos about college and living in residence halls. I built up many expectations for on-campus living, and a lot of those were not reality. It would have been so helpful if I had a current resident’s perspective about living in a residence hall before I moved in, which is why I’m writing to all the future on-campus residents. In the following, we will talk about some expectations versus reality for living on campus. 

Exploring Housing Options

As I prepared to apply for housing on campus at the U, I was overwhelmed by the number of options for first-year students. Because of this, I didn’t take much time to look into which building I wanted to live in. One expectation that built from this was that all of the residence buildings were the same. This was also based on the many YouTube videos of other schools that had similar looking residence buildings. I chose to live at Lassonde Studios because I saw that it was focused around entrepreneurship, which was my focus as I was applying to be a student at the U. When I arrived on campus and got settled in, I realized that the residence buildings are not all the same, and each one has different living communities based on what students are interested in. So, the reality of choosing to live on campus here at the U is that there are a variety of options and I highly recommend that future residents learn about all of our housing communities.

Making Friends and Being Involved

When I had all my things moved into my reserved room, I thought, “Now what?” I had expected everything to suddenly change and friends would simply appear right before my eyes. Well, that’s not exactly how it goes. Friends may not just appear out of thin air when you arrive on campus. The reality is that you have to go out and make friends, but the resources from HRE make this process a bit easier. Throughout move-in week, there are several activities held by both HRE and the Residence Hall Association (RHA). Attending these provides a great opportunity to meet other students on campus and make friends. Each residential community has one or more Resident Advisors (RAs) who are upper-division students that are there to build community and provide resources. They often become friends with fellow residents and can be a really great support system. As a current resident, I would highly recommend attending campus events and reaching out to your neighbors to build friendships during your stay on campus.


When moving to a big city, I thought that transportation without having a car or a bike would be hard to find. I did my research about what kinds of public transportation Salt Lake City offers, but it all seemed too confusing to use on a day-to-day basis. This was an expectation as I came to campus because I thought I needed to buy a car in order to get anywhere. My expectation was just a myth. As soon as I got here, I saw the many bus and train stops located in several places across campus. I thought of trying out public transportation through the city and while it was scary at first, it became easier to use. I would highly recommend that future residents research what kind of transportation options there are on campus, especially because students get free access to Utah Transit Authority (UTA) services through their UCard. Students also have access to SafeRide, which is a free service on campus for students to arrive safely to their destination during the evenings. I would also remind future residents that there are other transportation options such as Uber, Lyft, campus shuttles, getting rides from friends and more. If you will be bringing a car, be sure to check out Commuter Services for more information.

Overall, I built up many expectations for living on campus that simply were not true once I arrived here. Living where you study can be such a great opportunity to connect with people, find your passions, learn more about your future career and much more. If you want to get the most out of your college experience and living on campus, I would suggest doing a few things. As a current resident, I recommend that you stay involved with things happening across campus, attend events, build friendships, talk to your RA and other HRE professional staff, explore transportation options, etc. to make the best out of being on campus. As always, HRE is here to support students and residents as they navigate their life on campus.

Sydney Myers
Outreach Housing Ambassador