Divya recently took admission in a reputed college in DU. Having studied day and night for the past two years, she is satisfied that her efforts bore fruit in the end.
‘To be frank, I sometimes used to think that I won’t make it’ she admits. ‘However, I put my head down and kept studying. Now that I have finally made it, I’m relieved. Let’s see what the future holds’
Divya is from Kanpur. When she arrived in Delhi last week, another crisis situation hit her. ‘I came to Delhi and I had to make a choice. Where do I stay?’
Students coming to cities for studies are faced with a similar situation. Where to stay in a big city? One has to deal with a number of hassles, from dealing with landlords and flat brokers, to finally arriving at an agreement which suits the interests of all parties. Add to that the pressure of securing a college admission, one begins to understand how difficult things can be for students arriving from places far away from College Campuses.
We continued our conversation with Divya further, and asked if she had an outright preference. ‘A hostel would be nice’ she says. ‘I grew up with two siblings, so I’m not used to being alone. A hostel would be perfect, but I don’t think I would get a room there. Last time I checked, all hostels were already full. I’ll have to look for something else’
Divya seems confident she’ll be fine. Its been a long time since she has felt completely relaxed, but she hopes that time would come in a few weeks’ time.
There always seem a number of options available for students, but only seldom do students know the pros and cons of each option. Accommodation while studying at colleges is one of those things which is often ignored and considered a side issue, while it tends to become the biggest thorn for students later on in their college life. Through this article, we strive to explore the various accommodation options available to students during college admissions, and the pros and cons attached with each decision.
Rented Flats vs PG vs Hostels – A choice often neglected
While every student remains anxious and worried about College Admissions, the one thing most tend to forget is accommodation. Generally, it is considered to be a side issue, something which can be sorted out later without any problem. What most students don’t realize is that accommodation plays a great factor in shaping a student’s college life.
Besides attending classes, students spend the maximum amount of their time living in their rooms. For students who leave their native home for the first time, living away from a family is an unforeseen challenge they will find very hard to shrug off. Thus, the choice of room becomes accurate, as that becomes their new home for the coming three or four years.
The most symbolic part of college life is the hostel. Many who leave college may not remember their classes or faculties, but they almost always remember their hostels and the life they led in them.
Hostels are by far the most popular accommodation amongst the aforementioned three. The reasons behind their popularity are:
- Vibrant Community
A hostel is popular because of the sheer number of students that live together in one building. After leaving home, some students like to be a part of a more communal environment where they can feel relaxed.
Part of the fun of college life is in making friends and learning to live and adjust with people from different walks of life. Living together with a roommate teaches a student a lot of life lessons he or she might not have learned staying at home.
In a hostel, a student is seldom alone. His/her friends or roommates become versions of extended family away from home.
The facilities offered at hostels are also a key factor. Besides taking care of their own belongings, students living in hostels do not have to deal with landlords and flat brokers. The hostel remains in the perfect environment for a student to transition, from being someone who stayed with their parents for eighteen years to living in a hostel where basic facilities are provided.
Coming away from home, a major concern for students and their parents is food. Since most students are used to having food at home, the thought of leaving everything behind leaves many confused and apprehensive.
Most hostels have mess facilities, which cater to students for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some even have snack hours in the evening.
Many Private Colleges and Universities have started to induct a variety of messes offering different cuisines. Besides having different messes for veg and non-veg food, there are other variants like North Indian and South Indian messes. This added bonus is a great boon for students who find it difficult to adjust with life away from home.
Hostel life in a part of a larger college ecosystem. Since most students living in a hostel together go to the same college and attend the same classes, help is never far away. Students can reach out to their friends and acquaintances for all kinds of help. In many ways, hostel life epitomizes the college ecosystem which is based on responsible dependency of friends.
- Social Life
A hostel is not merely a collection of rooms and beds and tables. It is given life by the students which live in it. Living in a communal environment teaches students many values which they cannot learn otherwise.
Hostel fees varies from college to college. Usually, the annual fee for a room is around 70-80k. Naturally, fees at private universities are usually more than Government Colleges, but they come with many additional facilities. Many hostels these days have separate AC rooms as well. Students are free to choose from a wide variety of rooms, such as two-bedded, three-bedded and four-bedded rooms. The fee of each room varies.
Every option has its own benefits and perks, and the choice of rented flats comes with a list of its own.
Some salient points are listed below.
While hostels do offer a lot in terms of a vibrant community, they lack in one key aspect. Privacy.
Staying in a hostel means giving up personal privacy to a certain level. Most things in hostels are communal, from toilets to mess and washing areas. This situation becomes problematic for many students.
Rented flats solve this problem. Students have complete privacy. They can live as they want to, without being confined by the rules and timings of hostels.
If you are someone who wants to go for higher studies, rented flats are a very good option. Due to the presence of so many students, hostels are not conditioned for intensive studies. Rented flats however are perfect for such a situation.
While hostels may have a safety net, rented flats have no such benefits. This teaches students to become fiercely independent and responsible. For the first time in their lives, students have to visit grocery stores, wash their own clothes and live alone. This adds a different dimension to a student’s life and build character.
As with the benefits, there are also some clear drawbacks
- Living in a flat, students have to deal with landlords who can sometimes be intransigent and less understanding than hostel wardens. Landlords often visit their flats unannounced, which can be uncomfortable for some.
- Besides paying the rent, students also have to shell out additional money for groceries and other necessary items. This adds to the already heavy workload of studies.
- For getting a flat, students have to deal with flat brokers who charge exorbitant sums of money to get flats. This practice often leads to students paying over the scale to get a flat.
- Staying away from the college can sometimes become a problem. Students do not remain up to date with things happening in the College Campus.
Rent charged from students varies. Every city has a different rent scale, so there is no way of predicting property rates. A standard 2BHK in Delhi stands at around 12 – 14k per month. That is not all. Groceries and other miscellaneous expenditure adds up to 4-5k monthly.
PG (Paying Guest)
A PG is in many ways a combination of a hostel and a flat. Some key points are discussed below.
A PG, like a hostel, comes with a number of facilities. Basic facilities are provided by the landlord, who also lives the same flat. One room is set aside for a student where he/she lives. Meals are provided by the landlord, as well as other facilities such as Wi-Fi and laundry.
- A home-like atmosphere
Since most PGs have families accommodating students, they have a home-like vibe to them. This attracts many students who prefer a smooth transition after leaving home. Though it doesn’t guarantee privacy like rented flats, it is much more conducive for people who don’t like living in a familial environment.
In terms of money, PGs are cheaper than rented flats. Most PGs cost around 10-12k a month. Additional electricity charges are also included.
If all options have their advantages, how does a student decide? There are a number of factors which come into consideration while making a decision. These factors have been listed down as follows:
Money is a very important factor. Accommodation is no joke, and takes a hefty toll on the wallet. While hostels, rented flats and PGs have their respective advantages, they are distinct when it comes to fees. For many students, money is often a leading factor in making the decision. With tuition fees skyrocketing in Private Colleges and steadily increasing in government-run institutions, many believe taking the cheapest option when it comes to accommodation is the right choice.
Coming away from home, students often find it difficult settling into an alien environment along with people they have never met before. In such a case, a community comes to play a big role in the decision. A vibrant community makes it easier for students to settle down and transition smoothly into College life. This has been proven in many cases where students ingratiate seamlessly into College Life if they are able to meet the right people at the right time.
- Conduciveness to studies
Before we forget, college is a place where students go to study!
Sometimes, Studying in college can be difficult, not simply due to the tough course syllabus, but because of the dynamic nature of college life. Most students coming to College Study for one exam for one or two years. In college, there are a number of exams every other week, from quizzes and lab tests to mid-terms and Semester Exams. Thus, an environment conducive to studies is a must for every student taking the plunge into college life.
A place where a student decides to stay for three or four years should be convenient at the very least. This factor mainly talks about the facilities provided to the students if they choose one of either hostels, rented flats or PGs.
The table below summarises the options for students choosing between hostels, rented flats and PGs. Each factor has been rated out of five.
PG (Paying Guest)
Fees at hostels are significantly lower overall when compared to rented flats and PGs
Rented flats are by far the most expensive option when it comes to choosing college accommodation
PGs are cheaper than rented flats, but still rank lower than hostels when it comes to college accommodation fees
Hostels quite easily cater to the best possible community environment out of the given three choices
Rented flats have no community environment at all.
PGs are better than flats in this factor, but still lag behind hostels from a community aspect
Conduciveness to studies
Because of the sheer number of students living together, hostels cannot be considered ideal for studies.
The biggest advantage of rented flats is the peace they offer to students to study.
Also suited for studies. Living in a house with another family can mean some disturbance at times, but it’s nothing compared to living in a hostel.
College hostels provide students with most basic needs
Most facilities are available, but students have to pay separately for them
Kind of like a home away from home, PGs are the most convenient of the lot.
Comparison done. Now what do I do?
Each option has its share of pitfalls and benefits. At the end of the day, choosing between hostels, rented flats and PGs is a more personal choice than anything else. In other words, it depends from student to student.
If you want to study further after your Graduate Degree and plan on writing competitive exams in the final year of graduation, a peaceful environment in a PG or rented flat is better suited. However, if you want to do all these things but hate the prospect of staying away from friends in college, maybe hostel should be your choice.
In the same manner, if you are more interested in enjoying college life and doing reasonably well in college, hostels are a very good option.
Hostel. Rented Flat. Paying Guest. Are there any other options?
You can stay at home.
Often, students make the rash decision of going away from home after schooling thinking that it is necessary to do so. In most cases, it isn’t.
The only a reason a student should think of leaving their homes is when they get admission in a truly elite college. For engineers, this means that going away from home for admission in IIT, NIT or BITS is fine. However, there is no need to leave if the college is just a little better than the rest.
If you want to leave, you should only leave for the best colleges out there. If you can’t get admission in the top colleges, the best option is to find the best college near your home and complete graduation as a day scholar.