The Truth About Being A Commuter
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The Truth About Being A Commuter

It's harder than you think

The Truth About Being A Commuter
National Review

Most teenagers can’t wait to get out of high school and begin their freshman year of college. They’ve anticipated the legendary “college experience,” including the parties, new friends, dorm life, and, yes, even the caf food. It’s the newfound freedom everyone looks forward to as they enter the gates of adulthood—well, almost everyone.

See, there is a minority of students like me who are not in the least bit interested in said “college experience.” Some of us only dream of a seamless transition that will allow us to carry on with our lives as they were in high school (obviously with a lot more writing and studying). These students are usually local to a university or live in their own off-campus housing. Neither option is better than the other; therefore, the path one chooses all depends on that person’s personality.

School Is Not My Home

For most students at a university, the school doubles as their learning facility and their home. This means being able to wake up 15 minutes before class begins, running back to their dorm if they forgot something, going back to their dorms for a powernap before their next class starts, and little to no wasted time/money if they get to class only to find out it was cancelled.

I don’t have any of these luxuries. I live about 35 minutes from my school, which means that I generally wake up at 7 AM for my 9 AM class, and if I happen to forget something, then I’m just SOL. I also spend almost all of my time in between classes in the library, which is actually a pro, but it becomes a con when I’m running on four hours of sleep and I begin to consider just lying on the floor and dying. Finally, a cancelled class is always a good class, but when I make that 35-minute drive the school for my only class of the day just to find out it has been cancelled, it’s pretty frustrating to say the least.

The Endless Gas Tank

Another sucky part of commuting is the money spend in gas. Of course I save a ton of money by not living on campus, but how much I'm spending on gas becomes a lot more noticeable when it’s coming straight out of my pocket instead of into a loan. Not to mention the drive itself is just plain boring.

The fact that I hate the drive so much prevents me from going to most events on campus. I tend not to get involved with any school functions, primarily because they usually go on out of the normal hours that I am on campus and I don’t want to make another drive back up there later that night. As much as I would like to be more of an active member of my school’s community, it doesn’t seem to fit with my schedule.

Nameless Faces

I go to a pretty small school, so I have started to remember a lot of faces. But because I don’t live in a dorm or spend much time on campus outside of class, I don’t have much of an opportunity to actually meet them. Everyone I see pretty much already has a friend group, but I generally am alone throughout the day. I don’t mind it really, I actually kind of prefer it, but sometimes having someone to go to on campus would be great. This also makes it hard for me to stay in the loop on things going on around campus.


Although this is not true for many, as a lot of students have on-campus jobs, I have noticed that a lot of people who have traveled to come to my school don’t have to work. This isn’t out of the ordinary; most of them don’t know the area and a lot of their parents will generously send them a sort of “allowance.” I totally don’t mind working, but sometimes I wish I had the option to focus completely on my classes instead of worrying about work on top of that.

I know, I know. I probably sound like a real baby by now. But commuting isn’t all bad. There are definitely some perks to it that students who live on campus don’t get to enjoy.

Too Cool For Rules

For one, I am on the verge of moving into my own place with my boyfriend and my daughter (or my dog, as some call her). This is something I have been looking forward to for a long time, and living with my boyfriend and my dog would be impossible if I were to live on campus. I don’t think I would really like living with anyone else, so having a roommate is a total con for me. I also don’t have to deal with any drama or conflict with any others in my building.

Living on my own also means that I can set my own rules. I don’t have to go to hall meetings or restrict what I can and cannot have in my room. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone or sneak around. I am very independent, and this aspect of off-campus living is probably the most important to me.

Staying Close To Home

I love the fact that I never have to go through the pain of missing my loved ones. By staying local, I have saved myself from that grief and I can go see my family whenever I want to. I also didn’t have to part with my car, which some (not all) students are forced to do when they move far from home. I get to keep all aspects of my normal life, which is a really big plus for me.

I also don’t have to worry about finding my way around a new area. I’ve lived near my college for about nine years, so I have the city pretty much down pat. I think locals are privy to a lot more tips, tricks, and deals that people not from here aren’t aware of.

Overall, everyone in college has it hard. We’re all fighting the same battle, just in a different way. Everyones "college experience" is whatever they make it, commuter or not. However, as most college students reading this are probably not commuters, I figured many of them don't know what it’s like to live off-campus. Nonetheless, even with all of my complaints, I still love my school and the path I have chosen, and I hope it continues to work for me until the day I graduate.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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