As a senior in college, it’s tough to think that maybe I missed out on a “normal” college experience by being a commuter. To some extent, I did. While the majority of students choose to live on campus for at least one year throughout their education, I was never given a great chance, and as a result, I spent three years as a commuter student (not including 2020 when everyone was considered an online student).
When I first started college, I had chosen the route of attending community college through a high school program. I’d attend both types of classes throughout my day, and eventually graduated high school with an Associate’s degree. I spent about an hour driving daily. On this campus, not too many clubs were offered and only a couple fundraising events through the years existed. However, what was helpful to my social life was the small classroom sizes. This was where I was able to really connect with people and form some friendships. These so-called “friendships”, though, would only survive the length of the semester before we went our separate ways. At the time, this was enough for me to avoid the feeling of being alienated.
Two years later, it was 2020 and I was moving onto a four year university to complete my bachelor’s. My mother and I went on a shopping spree for my soon-to-be dorm… you know, before schools made the announcement about their fall plans. I had everything from a tapestry down to a water bottle prepared. About a week later, everyone had been notified about the new on-campus rule – that it wouldn’t happen. Now, I was stuck with a boatload of college dorm decor and nowhere to put them.
About halfway through the semester, I had decided that online school was not for me, and I learned much better through in-person classes. But by the time colleges were bringing back those in-person classes, I was already a senior. I felt like my time in college had just flew by, never getting the chance to meet new people and experience life as a real college student. So although I decided that dorming would not be the right path to take as an incoming senior, I returned to life as a commuter student. 45 minutes there, 45 minutes back.
I wasn’t dealt the best hand through my college years, what with COVID and all. But, I have discovered a couple ways that have helped to maintain my sanity during the more trying times. I was able to develop a plan that allowed me to work, drive, study, and still have time for things I personally like to do. Being a commuter student has given me more incentive to join clubs that I might not have joined if I were living on campus, to discover new hobbies I never thought of trying before, and possibly the most fulfilling, I noticed that I put more effort into meeting people and forming deep connections. Yes, as commuters, we have to put in a little extra effort, and sometimes it takes a little longer to make connections. But so long as you have the mindset of persistence and are willing to risk stepping out of your comfort zone, commuting will be as good of an experience as you make it.