You may not get enough time on campus, but at least you won’t have much debt
By EG Manilag, Staff Writer
There are many definitions for the concept of a “commuter student.” It can be a student who lives off-campus (since there are no dormitories in our college, it’s safe to say that we all might relate to this!); a student who commutes or walks to school; or a student who often has work or family commitments after their classes. For many, these definitions go all in one at the same time. There are some pros in being a commuter student, and these pros are highly essential for lifelong learning and student productivity. But let’s start with the negatives.
Being a student commuter myself, I sometimes feel isolated and stressed. I often get worried about my bus schedule. To cope with my distance problem, I always wake up early so that I can catch the bus and go to school… hours before lectures. I also feel lonely because even if I want to join some cool clubs, my course and work schedules won’t permit me. But one really has to work in order to save and survive, so hanging around on campus after classes isn’t really an option for many students with jobs.
To avoid the stress of working with school, some students take out student loans. If you’re like me, the moment you receive your loan, you often feel more anxious rather than excited because you know you have to pay it back soon. As the amount accumulates, you feel obligated to at least work part time to save a couple bucks to help pay the debt in the future, which is how many become commuter students in the first place. Like many other fellow commuters, my college life is like a “come and go” experience—there is less engagement, and it seems the cycle just won’t end. Despite all these negatives however, there are many positives to such a lifestyle.
Life as a commuter student is still great. Sure, we deal with struggles and all that jazz, but we are also more productive as one study suggests. According to professors Simpson and Burnett in their 2019 study “Commuters Versus Residents: The Effects of Living Arrangement and Student Engagement on Academic Performance,” commuter students generally have better GPAs than residential students (or students who live on campus). The authors note that the level of academic challenge was the main contributor preceding living arrangement. The findings of the study also imply that commuter students tend to strategically make use of their campus’s academic services more than resident students do because their time in campus is limited.
It may be frustrating having to leave school immediately because of other responsibilities when you want to be a part of the college community. However, the benefits to being a commuter student are often overlooked. I wouldn’t change my college experience even if I could.