9 Realities of Commuting to College


28v7ql4For four years, I uttered the phrase, “I’m a commuter” when I met new friends and potential flames. As a student at a high-resident college, the realities of being a commuter consumed me, and I learned a few things—both great and annoying—that dominate the life of a college commuter. Yes, it’s different, and sometimes it’s a pain and sometimes you’ll feel separated from the insular campus life, but it’s also kind of awesome knowing you have a place away from campus to unwind from the bubble of college
. Plus: the food is ten times better.

1. Your experience will be totally different

This has to be said. Instead of becoming a member of this insular world, this college club, you’ll be on the outskirts of it just a little bit. You’ll have different friends, won’t be able to just walk down the hall to find pals, snacks, booze and instant study buddies, and dating is a lot more complicated. But there are fringe benefits.

2. Couch-surfing is your best friend

Get used to keeping a night bag on you and make it a priority to find friends who don’t mind you crashing on their floors. To get the full college experience, you need to go to parties, bars and events. Without a dorm to call your own, you’ll have to borrow someone else’s. Repay the favor with home-cooked meals every now and then.

3. People in class may not know you

I found that as a commuter, I didn’t know half the people in all of my classes, and they didn’t know me, either. In group projects, you’ll be “the commuter” who is on a different schedule than everyone else and may have some trouble meeting up. But that also means you’ll constantly be meeting new people and won’t get tired of the same faces semester after semester.

4. You have slight distinction

Being labeled “the commuter” is awesome when, again, everyone tends to get tired of each other after a while. Being a constantly new entity is exciting, and gives you distinction at parties or in the dating scene. Everyone is interested in the “new kid,” after all!

5. Late-night events will require planning

Remember that night bag I mentioned? Yeah, keep that in mind at all times. Plans during the week and especially on weekends isn’t as easy as getting ready in a pinch and then hopping a train with your pals from campus. You’ll need to plan, keep your options open and be ready to be up for anything your friends have in store for you. Don’t back out just because it may be a hassle.

6. You’ll be a member of a lot of different friend groups

Because you won’t have a dorm or roommates, your friend groups will probably be many and varied, and you’ll be constantly hopping between them. This isn’t a bad thing; after all, so many of the same friend groups get all dramatic after a while, and even you may get sick of seeing the same people. New classes, clubs and classmates all mean new people to hang out with, and your experience will be ever changing.

7. Never will you have to deal with terrible roommates

One of the best perks of being a commuter is having a single…all the time! When campus is a bore or you need to hanker down and study, you’ll have your own comfy bedroom at home, which you can fill to the brim with booze (hidden from your parents, probably) that you can never be written up for. It’s always just as quiet as you need it to be, and it’s completely cinder-block-free. It’s your haven, and likely all your friends will envy you for that.

8. The food is just indescribably better when your mom is making it

Caf food is always terrible, on every campus ever. I stopped going to the caf by my second semester of freshman year, and never looked back. Commuting to college means home-cooked meals at the drop of a hat, with time to spare for your next class. Be a pal and pack some up for your dorm-living friends, or better yet, invite them home for some real food. Pay it forward.

9. You’ll feel much more independent

Despite living at home and feeling sort of similar to high school, commuting to college gives you a much broader worldview because you’re not stuck in this college bubble. There are other people you interact with beside classmates and professors (and old exes being recycled among your friends). And if you work outside campus, you’re that much more aware of the outside world, and it’s refreshing.

I commuted to college for four years and worked throughout it all, and I felt much more equipped to deal with the “real world” after college than most of my friends. The bubble doesn’t consume you.

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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