Being a residential student I was more or less forced to go to University of Hawaii at Hilo because it was the only four year institute on the island. That being said, going to this university was the right choice for me because it fit my budget and I was close enough to home that I wouldn't get cold feet. Being a non-residential student is a bit more pricey - when considering tuition, housing, and a meal plan if you are living on campus - but, you do experience some awesome perks. The week before classes start includes an orientation week where you meet fellow students, staff, and more importantly your roommate. During this time there are many activities to attend and you have some weekend adventures to do during this week and throughout the year too! (sign up early, spots get taken fairly quickly). Plus there is free gym access for students, Zumba, Hula, and many more activities to attend during the year. I must warn that with all good things aside you should be wary of the environment here. The weather here can be bipolar - sunny in the morning to rain by noon - and it gets very humid in certain housing options. I suggest getting a fan since you are assigned a room by random, and it may or may not be in a housing wing that receives wind. Also, when applying to housing I suggest Hale Kehau, I've gotten some good feedback from my friends living there during the year. Other than that I'm sure that you'll enjoy UH Hilo!