Associate Features Editor
A huge part of the college experience is living on campus. Many students meet their first friends in their residence halls or suites. However, not everyone lives on campus. How does commuting alter the college experience?
Most commuters have jobs. Unless their parents/guardians reside close to the school, they have an apartment by themselves or with friends. Working while attending college is a challenge because college courses require extensive amounts of time, and the syllabus is identical for both commuters and resident students. Essentially, some students work harder for the same education. When commuting students are not at their jobs or doing school work, they are choosing between sleep/personal time and socialization.
Socializing is a challenge unless a student is part of a club, and even then, they are left out. Having to drive to and from the campus area for events and parties can be a hassle. A lot of college life happens outside of class, but getting to know people who are around each other all the time is difficult.
Resident students wonder why commuting students have chosen to take on college in a different way. Commuters are outcasts who are sometimes made to feel like they don’t even go here. At the same time, commuters have more personal space than residents. They can choose when they want to see their fellow Marauders. Having a car is beneficial because they aren’t constantly stuck on campus. However, there are steps that can be taken to better include commuters.
Invite them. Invite them to parties, sporting events, clubs, and just to hang out. Befriend them. A lot of commuters are great people who just can’t afford to live on campus because of financial aid reasons. Include them. Commuters are students too and they want to get a lot of the same things out of college that residents do. They shouldn’t be shut out from campus life. Many of them would love to be more involved and would live on campus if it were an option or made sense for them. There are some people who don’t like to be in close quarters with others all the time and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with them. Some people require space because of mental health reasons or because they’re just introverted. There are also people whose parents live so close to Millersville that moving on campus would be a waste of money. Commuting students live within various distances of the college which renders each student’s situation unique.
Students who live within walking distance from campus can feel isolated, so having to drive to campus can further prevent students from getting involved. Having to drive or take the bus to clubs, sports, and social gatherings can deter students from going out at all and can impact whether residents invite commuters at all. No college experience is identical, and commuters wouldn’t be missing out if they were invited to be involved more. There are an additional independence and accountability that comes with being a commuter. Having to drive to class can make being on time more difficult. So, what does Millersville do to help commuters feel more at home?
Commuters don’t require a move-in day, but they do have an orientation day specifically for them. It’s a mandatory program that costs $264. The program for residents requires a fee of $335. The commuter orientation is cheaper and different material is covered at each orientation, however, separating commuters and residents may be a negative decision backed by good intentions. Commuters and residents receive the opportunity to meet other students who share the same situation as them, but this discourages them from getting to know people in different situations. By segregating orientation, students are taught that they automatically belong to a certain group. For commuters, the group that harbors the most on-campus life is not one that they are not associated with. It would be more effective to mix the students at orientation and cover all the information that they both need seeing as a lot of it is similar except for living arrangements. Commuters may purchase meal plans or pay for meals and drinks in cash which is amazing. Philadelphia House includes a kitchen, locker room, and study space to accommodate commuters which is also thoughtful. The library and Student Memorial Center are open to all students. Ideally, Millersville should feel like home to all students, but for commuters, that’s not the reality although the administration has resources in place.
All Marauders share the same passion for learning and are a part of a community. For commuting students, it might not always feel like they are truly involved. More awareness needs to be spread to guarantee commuting students the best college experience possible. Students themselves should be more inclusive. Commuters are as important to Millersville as residents and should be treated as such.