Most high school seniors have one picture in mind when they think of “the college experience.” This includes dorming, meeting and living with new people, and gaining independence by being away from home. Other college students may have a different college experience; these students are college commuters. College commuters usually live at home or in off campus residential areas (when they reach their junior/senior year in college). Some college freshmen start their college experience in dorms and then make the switch while some start right off as commuters. I am a college commuter and I had major concerns before starting my freshman year. I was worried about not being able to meet as many people as students living on campus would. It is definitely possible to have an amazing college experience while commuting.
Although they aren’t living on campus, commuters are still a part of campus. Do not hesitate to become a part of campus life! Get involved in clubs, sports, student government, etc. College isn’t simply about going to classes and getting a degree. Going to college is a unique experience in which many people make lifelong friends and make the best memories. By getting involved, you will have the opportunity to meet new people and develop connections, friendships, and possibly build your resume! As a college commuter, I am on three e-boards; I am the Treasurer for Nazareth’s Commuter Association, I am one of three Class of 2020 senators, and I am on the Student Advisory Board. As a commuter, I am able to attend classes full-time, and I’m a Student Ambassador. Student Ambassadors at Nazareth give tours to prospective students and represent campus during open houses. By getting involved with campus life, I am also able to meet resident students. As a commuter student, do not shy away from becoming friends with residents. Building friendships with other commuters is just as important as building friendships with residents on campus! Resident students can introduce you to even more new people, and you may even be able to check out some dorms and the dining hall. Although I’m a commuter student, most of my friends are residents. If I have free time after class, I’ll visit one of my friends or we’ll meet in a student lounge!
The thought of getting to campus on time every morning was something I found stressful before my freshman year. Planning your commute ahead of time is crucial. Always make sure you have enough time to get on campus, find a parking spot, and get to class. During my freshman year, my first class started at 9:30AM. I made sure to leave the house by 8:45AM to give myself time in case there is traffic. At the end of the day, it all depends on where you are commuting from. Make sure to do plenty of research and find different routes to get to and from campus. If you don’t own a car and plan to take the bus, check local websites and plan from there. While getting to campus on time is one thing to plan for, commuter students must also realize that they won’t have a dorm to store all their necessities in. This is why a durable backpack is essential for college commuters. Everything you need from books to pencils should be carried in your backpack to avoid forgetting anything at home. You also may have short breaks in between your classes, depending on your schedule. Resident students may go to their dorm during this time, while commuter students are not able to do this. Always tour campus beforehand, so you can get a picture of the different places on campus. Nazareth commuters are fortunate enough to have a commuter lounge. Whenever I have a short break in between classes, I always go to the commuter lounge in shults. There are computers, printers, couches, a TV, a fridge, and microwave, all available for our use.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy your time in college! Sure you aren’t experiencing dorm life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great college experience! Everything started to fall into place as I took these steps towards involvement and meeting new people. I still remember fall semester of my freshman year as my favorite time at Nazareth. Everyone’s college experience is unique. Just make sure to do what makes you happy and have fun!