Choosing where to live during your college years can be an overwhelming task, with so many on- and off-campus options. A rushed decision made under pressure at the end of my first semester lead to a tremulous second year on campus.

As you start thinking about where you want to spend the next school year, here are some things to think about to help your decision.

Pros

Escape: If you live off campus, you can really get away from school and the stresses that come with it. Whereas if you're on campus, you never really can escape the hustle and bustle of everything happening. College dorms are also always "on." There's a constant rustle, the hallway lights are always illuminated and there are always people coming in and out. Quiet hours in a dorm can be a joke. Even if you don't have roommates, noise pollution is a problem.

More freedom, flexibility: If you enjoy ambiance as you're falling asleep, no one says can't have candles in your room. Off-campus living opens up a host of decorating, layout and lease length options that aren't available on campus. You can choose to have one, two or more roommates, if you want to share a room or bathroom or have your own. You have more freedom to decorate your home away from home. Finally, you'll be able to hang up your favorite pictures without the fear of damage fees.

More space, lower price: Do the math for yourself, but some students find they can have more space and amenities for a lower price than on-campus options. You also have dozens of options to consider, much more than the limitations of campus designs. The cost is reduced even more if you choose to bunk with a roommate or two.

Cons

Campus disconnect: It's harder to stay connected and attend campus events when you're required to commute. When I moved off-campus, I was already involved in student activities, and I felt connected to campus. As an off-campus student, you have to put forth the effort to seek out activities, since they won't be just down the hall or across the street anymore.

Lack of community: College residence halls work towards fostering a community among residents. Regularly scheduled floor activities and midnight breakfasts aren't a part of off-campus life. You also probably won't have the benefit of walking down the hall in your pajamas and bunny slippers to knock on your friend's door for an impromptu movie night. Popping through the bathroom to chat with your suitemate will no longer be possible.

Farther away: Living off campus means you've got a commute. No more waking up 15 minutes before class and walking across the street. You have to account the extra time needed for a longer walk. If you live miles away, you'll need enough time to drive to campus, park and then walk to class. Icy roads or a good snow might prevent you from driving to class at all on some days.

Samantha Smoak is a junior in communication studies. She can be reached at ssmoak@utk.edu.

This content appeared as a part of the fall 2013 housing guide.