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  • Writer's pictureLFaits

On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Life

It’s that time of year again- housing selection time. For many people, including myself, this time can cause a little bit of anxiety. You must decide where to live, who to live with, what you can afford, what you can’t afford… a lot in a small time frame.

When I first selected to attend the Illinois College of Optometry, I knew nothing about the area. I didn’t have too much to go off of in order to make my final decision. Here are a few tips about areas that I would have found helpful when choosing where to live as an ICO student.

RC Living

The RC is the residential complex that is on-campus student housing provided by ICO. The RC is a great place to meet other students, especially during first year. The building is across the street from all classes and labs which is super convenient. This is also great for exams because our exams are at 8 a.m. Additionally, most students living the RC have a meal plan so you do not have to worry about cooking or shopping for food.

Rooms are all suite or apartment style with the options of living with a roommate or individually.


Around Campus

A lot of students choose to live in the RC as a first year and then decide to move to an apartment near campus second year. This option still allows for the convenience of being close to campus and is often slightly cheaper than living in an apartment further downtown. There is one major landlord in particular that has renovated many buildings near the college and only rents out to ICO students. These apartments are a great option if you are planning on living with a large group because many have multiple bedrooms.


South Loop

If you want to be further downtown and have more of an in-the-city feel, South Loop may be the right neighborhood for you. This is an area on the edge of downtown that is still very affordable for college students. The affordable prices are because the area has been built up recently compared to what it used to be. Now, many businesses are moving in. It is a great location to be steps away from grocery stores, restaurants, parks, gyms, and shops. Most buildings are just a quick bus or train ride from campus and many apartment buildings are also pet-friendly if you are tempted to get a furry friend.


Wicker Park 

Wicker Park is one of my favorite places in Chicago, but is unfortunately one of the further areas from campus. I recommend the area if you have a car. Otherwise, it is about an hour commute by train. The area has a fun hipster vibe and is filled with shops, cafes, and many outstanding restaurants. It is just north of downtown and does offer affordable living depending on which area you choose. Some of my favorite study spots are located here!


The great thing about being in Chicago is that there are endless living opportunities and you are bound to find and area that works best for you. You can live with a large group of friends or fly solo in a one bedroom or studio place. I personally chose living in the RC first year so that I could get to know the area and plan to move to the South Loop area next year. Overall, you have tons of options!


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