It depends on the college. Most colleges, if you live nearby, will let you be a "commuter" student, meaning you live nearby and drive back and forth. If you don't already live in the area, some colleges will at least strongly encourage you to live in the dorms - the school I went to was a small liberal arts school and was a residential campus, meaning that unless you had family in the area you had to apply to live off campus - they did this to really encourage community in the dorms. But like I said, this will vary a lot according to the culture of the specific college you're looking at. If you feel strongly about living on or off campus, this is something you'll want to look for/ask about when you're looking at colleges, by asking what percentage of freshman live on campus vs. off campus, or what percentage live there vs. commute. Hope that helps!