When going away to school, some students hear that living on campus is overrated and they should go straight to an apartment. The truth is, when first going away to school, when you live off campus you are somewhat "detached" from the activities and things going on. Believe me, there is ALWAYS something on. You'll miss the dorm parties, water balloon fights (do they still do that?) and memories you won't be able to make living somewhere else. Even if it's your first two years, the experiences you'll get by living on campus in a dorm are second to none. When it comes to studying, there's nothing better than living on campus. All the resources and libraries you need are a couple of steps away. They are open very late, and when you need a paper done in peace and quiet, or need to have a late night study session, the library is your best bet.
Some schools still require their freshmen to live on campus their first year, and things are very different. Many colleges and universities have redone or rebuilt dorms that are now suite-style. That means no more waiting on the showers down the hall, no more community restrooms, and you'll be sharing the restroom with 3 other people instead of 40 or more. When moving into your junior year, you may feel as if you need more privacy. That's when an apartment may come in handy. You'll have your own stove to cook the food you buy that fits in a standard sized refrigerator, your own room, your own bathroom, and things are a lot calmer - maybe. Apartment complexes that work with universities offer quad-style apartments. Four separate rooms, with the rest of the apartment being open to everyone - the dining room, living room, patio, kitchen. Most of these apartments come with a microwave, washer/dryer, and ... they are furnished!
What's the best alternative? If you're a transferring student and have lived on campus already, you may be past the excitement of living in a dorm, but if this is your first foray into living on your own away from home, don't discount the experience of dorm living. It's worth it.