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Campus Life at American Universities
July 1, 2020

Campus Life at American Universities

Group of tall buildings in a tree-filled landscape from a bird's eye view.
Aerial view of main campus quad (credit: University of Notre Dame).


Guest blog post by Marinella Stollenwerk, current student at the University of Notre Dame.

One of the most unique aspects of universities in the United States is the focus on campus life. Coming from New Zealand where most universities are based in metropolitan areas and there is less of a sense of a typical university campus, one of the things that attracted me most to studying in the U.S was the ability to live on campus and partake in the rich campus culture that so many of the universities in the U.S offer.

There is something very special about the campus life of universities in the U.S. Each different aspect of campus life aims to help students build bonds and friendships, creating a strong campus community.

Dorm Life

One of the places where the strongest bonds are formed are in college dorms. Many universities in the U.S require students to live on campus for at least one year, to help them settle into their new environment and make friends. I was originally apprehensive of the idea of living in a dorm, due to the thought of living with a roommate and using a communal shower. However, this has become one of my favourite parts of campus life, as it means I get to live with all my friends and participate in all the fun dorm activities.


Many universities in the U.S boast hundreds of different clubs that students can get involved in on campus. These can range from club or intramural sports to theatre and music programs to Lego building clubs. Joining clubs in college can help round out the college experience and often serve as a stress reliever, taking the pressure off of focusing solely on academics.

On-Campus Jobs

On-campus jobs are a great aspect of campus life as they provide a way to gain work experience and earn money, while being extremely convenient as they are located where you both study and live. I am able to get from my last class of the day to my on-campus job in less than 5 minutes, and from my job to my dorm or the dining hall in under 2 minutes. As on-campus jobs are made for students, they accommodate academic schedules, and can even relate to your studies.

Campus Events and Sports

One of most unique things about universities in the U.S is the emphasis on college sports. Many larger universities have a sports team (often a football team) that the whole school is able to rally around. This creates for a fun atmosphere on college game days when students, alumni and fans come to campus to tailgate and watch the game. However, campus events are not solely focused around sports. Many college campuses will host speakers, put on concerts or screen films in order to generate an exciting campus life for students.

Being able to live on campus and participate in a vibrant campus life has been one the best parts of my experience studying at a university in the United States.  It has allowed me to create strong friendships and has made me feel like a part of a community while studying so far from home.