For many, having a dog waiting for you when you got home from school was a way of life growing up. In fact, The Humane Society estimates there are currently 164 million pets in American homes. As many students move away to attend college, they may consider owning a dog of their own — but what are the pros and cons of owning bringing a canine friend while pursuing further education?

Book end puppyPro: Overall Health

Owning a dog can contribute to your overall well-being in a variety of unexpected ways. Pets are excellent stress reducers, and spending time petting your dog can reduce your blood pressure and release relaxation hormones to help you to function more efficiently, according to WebMD. Other positive health benefits often attributed to dog ownership include lower blood pressure, faster recovery from illness and injury, and lower cholesterol levels.

Con: Cleaning

Dogs can be lovable, albeit messy. Dogs, especially puppies, come with the additional responsibility of cleaning up after them. If you adopt a puppy, you will have to housebreak the pup, which can take a lot of time and patience. Additionally, dogs need to be bathed, brushed, and have their nails clipped regularly.

Pro: Physical Fitness

Dogs need exercise and aren’t shy about it. Dog owners are more likely to go walk or run with them and having a dog almost forces you to exercise regularly. While you might be content to sit on the couch instead of exercise, a dog who doesn’t get regular walks will become restless and possibly destructive around the house. There’s no better motivator to get out and run than the possibility of a ruined couch.

Con: Expenses

If there’s one thing you’re short on while attending college, it’s money. Owning a dog can be a big financial commitment. Flag Pets reports the average cost of pet ownership comes to about $360 a year just for food — vaccinations and annual medical treatment can exceed $200. That doesn’t include toys, dog doors, treats, or other supplies. Additionally, if something happens to your pet, such as injury or illness, veterinarian bills can be extremely costly if you’re unprepared for them. Expect a dog to cost in total about $1,000 annually.

Pro: Love and Laughs

Nothing compares to the unconditional love a canine companion provides. They’re always happy to see you and always supportive regardless of how bad a mood you might be in. For students living away from home for the first time, a dog can provide much of the companionship and sense of family that might be missing from their new life. The love and friendship forged between humans and canines is the stuff of novels and films and can last for years to come. Dogs are family.

Con: Planning

If you’re the type who enjoys the freedom of going out all night or taking spontaneous road trips, owning a dog might not be feasible. Dogs need to be cared for and arrangements need to be made if you intend to not be home. Dogs can’t be left alone if you decide to stay out all weekend, and caring for a dog doesn’t allow for much error. When trying to figure out whether owning a dog is right for you, keep in mind what your current schedule is like and seriously consider if you have the time and finances to care for a new member of your household.

Making the Right Choice

Whatever you decide to do, think carefully and don’t act impulsively. A pet is a commitment for the animal’s life and not one of convenience. There’s no rush and you’ll have plenty of time soon enough to have a canine companion if now isn’t the right time. And when that time does come, do a solid by your future pup as well as all animals in need and adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Your new bestie will thank you with love and devotion every day for it.

How awesome would it be to have an apartment of your own? It would give you your own space and freedom. It would also give you more bills and a landlord. Off-campus living has many great advantages and plenty of disadvantages to consider before making a move into your own apartment.

Apt.Pro: Freedom

Let’s start with the obvious. There is no RA looking over your shoulder. You do not need to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. You have autonomy to do what you want to do. If you have the ability to swing an apartment of your own, then you do not need to deal with a roommate. You can be as messy or as clean as you like with no one to criticize you, except maybe a parent on periodic visits. Your own apartment also allows you to bring home dates as you wish. These are all important parts of your development into an adult.

Con: Missing Out

There is a reason the Princeton Review puts out a list of the top party schools. Campus living can be fun and, if you are not there, you can miss out on a lot. This year, the University of Iowa topped the list of party schools. It also came in first on the “Lots Of Hard Liquor” list and forth on the “Lot Of Beer” list. These things are not going to come to you if you are in your apartment. Other fun and academic activities are easier to access when living on campus.

Pro: Working Through The Summer

The hope is that you have a job that allows you to work around your class schedule and has no problem with you leaving for two or three months in the summer. The reality is that that is probably not the case. Most jobs that are okay with you leaving in the summer are intern positions or low paying. Having your own apartment will allow you to keep the job. Of course there is a catch 22 situation to this. You need the apartment to keep the job and you need the good job to keep the apartment.

Con: No Credit

Apartments can be expensive. Look at Boston apartments as an example. According to RentalBeast.com, an average Boston apartment can run about $1,881 per month. They are not just going to give you this apartment because of your good looks. You will need first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a credit history. If you have no credit history, you may need to come up with an additional deposit or be able to show that you have a strong income. If none of that works, then mom and dad may need to cosign for you.

Pro: Building Credit

You may have no credit now, but establishing a payment history can help create a good credit account. Experian and TransUnion report rental payments as positive credit. If this is important to you then ask your landlord to report lease payments to the credit bureaus. Also, utilities and telephone bills that are paid on time will all show as positive reports towards your credit rating.

Con: Financial Aid Won’t Cover It

If you have a good job that covers rent, then an off-campus apartment may work for you. If you are working from a smaller salary and financial aid, talk to you student financial adviser. Financial aid and student loans generally do not cover living expenses that are not on campus.

Your smartphone isn’t just for posting selfies, Tweeting clever observations, and finding the best happy-hour deals in your town, it’s actually a powerful platform for helping you make the most of your college experience, academic and otherwise. We’ve rounded up a dozen apps beneficial for all college students, regardless of your device’s OS and your personal learning style. Oh, and if you need one more to make perfect baker’s dozen, we’ve got our own CampusBooks.com scanner-enabled app that can help you save on college textbooks and get more cash at buyback.

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