“I have a room to myself,” Myrene Gallardo from Oakton Community College in Chicago explains. “I don’t have to share my space with someone else.” Commuters like Gallardo are able to stay in a comfortable place to live while they face a big transition in their lives. Living with their parents also gives students a sense of security that would be hard to achieve if they lived away from their families. On top of that, families are able to save money and that is especially useful in today’s economy.
But of course, students who live at home face the very thing that many students hope to get away from in college: lack of independence. Gallardo admits that living with her parents can sometimes be bothersome. When asked about her relationship with her parents now that she’s in college, she says they still treat her like she was in high school. “I felt stress because I felt smothered,” Gallardo explains, “they weren’t letting me live the way I thought they would let me.”
Although living in a comfortable and secure home is good for commuters, there is still the matter of commuting. It’s not always fun and games for commuters who have to plan their lives around bus and train schedules. Rising gas prices also don’t help. And because commuters have to allot time for transportation, it takes a toll on other aspects of their lives. “It’s kind of hard to meet new people when you are just there for classes and then leave,” Brittany Metoyer from Elmhurst College says. However, some commuters like Metoyer find good things about commuting. “I actually enjoy my 45 minute ride to and from school everyday,” Metoyer admits. “It helps me to wake up before classes and also allows me some time to de-stress before getting back home.”
Vaughn Clay, Director of Monmouth University’s Off-Campus and Commuter Services, says that he is always most impressed with the “different kind of effort [commuters] have to exert.” He observes that non-resident students have a different approach to their education, as well as their lifestyle, due to their living situations which can present different challenges for them. Commuters become independent because they are pushed to be on top of their game in the classroom, take the initiative to get themselves into the classroom, and to allot time for personal care and recreation. For those who live in off-campus housing, they live without parents or mentors around to supervise them, which makes it all the more important for them to learn how to take care of themselves.