While every college girl shares many of the same college experiences (Procrastinating, Blue Book exams ), she also carves her own path and has her own unique adventure. Have you ever wondered what it’s like for other girls? What it’s like to be an online student? To get married?! To play an NCAA sport? Well wonder no more. Our one-of-a-kind CollegeCandy writers (and readers!) are sharing their unique experiences and opening our eyes to different college worlds.
I am a commuter student.
It’s a statement I’ve had to reiterate more times than I can count during the last four years. It’s a concept some people just can’t seem to understand. It’s something that professors don’t think about when they schedule their classes. It’s something club organizers don’t care about when they schedule their meetings. It’s something you hardly ever hear on my campus, one that’s over 70% residential. It’s a foreign concept to most college students, but not to me.
Let’s rewind a few years, back to when I was first applying to college. I made a list of what I wanted in a college, and where I wanted to go. And when it came down to it, the colleges right here in NYC, in the place I am lucky enough to live, had everything that I wanted. I applied to colleges out of state as well, but I wasn’t going to choose a college just because attending that college would or wouldn’t allow me to dorm.
So I sent out my applications and checked off that little box that indicated I was undecided about my residential status. When it came time to make my decision, I chose a college that was 20 minutes away, and while I still could have dormed, it just didn’t seem unnecessary. Was I really going to pay another $10,000 a year just to live on campus? It wasn’t like I hated living at home, and I had a car, so I wouldn’t be relying on public transportation. And 20 minutes is less time than it takes some students to walk across their campus. I simply couldn’t justify it to myself.
So I decided to give commuting a chance.
My biggest concern about living off campus was that I wouldn’t be able to be as involved on campus as I wanted to, and at first, it seemed like that was the case. Club meetings were all held late at night, and my classes usually ended by four, at the latest. I often had large gaps of time in between my classes, not enough time to head home, but just enough time to rationalize my way out of starting my reading and into Facebook stalking in the back of the library. Meeting people was more difficult as well; while everyone else was bonding with their new roommates, I did not have the same built-in social network to start with.
It was hard, but I still wanted to stick it out for a year. So instead of getting on the wait list for a dorm room, I got a job on campus. It was a job as an office assistant, a job that let me make use of those gaps in between my classes. Then, I joined the paper, despite the trip back to campus that it required. I made an effort. And as the semester went on, and I became more and more involved in the campus events that interested me, I met more and more people that shared my interests. I made friends that commuted, and friends that dormed (aka: friends that didn’t mind me crashing on their pull out couch after a late night).
Four years later, I’m on the editing staff at my school’s paper, I still work as an office assistant on campus. I’ve spent more time in my college’s library than I care to admit, and the coffee barista knows my name and my drink order on sight. The college dorm room is not a foreign concept to me and neither is the college party. But I never became a resident student and I’ve never really wanted to.
Because, honestly, although there are plenty of cons to not living on campus (Not being able to roll out of bed five minutes before class starts. Driving in a snow storm. Or a rainstorm. The price of gas. The parentals.), there are also some major perks, as well. I get home cooked meals and help with the laundry. I don’t have to share a bathroom with ten other girls, and I don’t have to share my bedroom with anyone. And there’s no dorm room drama, but there is always an excuse for being late to class (Traffic! Sorry!). There’s unlimited space on my DVR and the ability to blast my music as loud as I want. Sure, sometimes it gets annoying, (Like right now, as I sit here at a library, killing time before a club meeting that won’t start for another two hours), but I can imagine that dorm life can get annoying too.
People have told me I’m crazy. People have told me I haven’t received the “full college experience.” People have told me that I’ll regret it, that I need to live on campus in college to really “go to college.” But I disagree; I don’t think there is any one way to experience college. This was my college experience, and I wouldn’t change it.