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To the Commuter College Student: Here's How You Can Still Get Involved on Campus

Student Life

January 17, 2023

The cost of attending college, including tuition and dormitory living, can be a bit high. According to Research.com, the average room and board at private colleges cost $13,620, and $11,950 at public colleges. The average cost of college in the United States is $35,551 per student per year and has more than doubled in the 21st century, with an annual growth rate of 7.1%.

Opting to commute instead of living on campus can be a cost-effective choice. However, it may also lead to a sense of isolation.

However, it is still possible to fully partake in college life and activities while commuting. Here are some suggestions for ways to stay engaged on campus despite not residing there.

1. Participate in on-campus activities

Colleges offer a wide range of clubs, intramural sports, and extracurricular activities, such as gaming clubs, flag football teams, and student council opportunities, which provide an excellent way to connect with fellow students and feel a part of the community even if they don’t live on campus. Clubs and organizations also offer opportunities for students to develop new skills, pursue interests, and connect with others.

To explore the options available, check your school's website for a section on "campus life" or "student organizations," which provides information on the groups offered, how to join, contact details, and meeting schedules. These sections are generally dedicated to the many events and clubs offered.

2. Get involved in opportunities related to your major

If you're a junior, senior, or even an underclassman with a clear idea of what you want to major in, take advantage of the opportunities your major's department provides. Universities generally offer a variety of research opportunities, internships, and programs for students to participate in.

Not only will you gain valuable experience in your chosen field, but you will also have the chance to network with like-minded individuals and build meaningful connections with those in your major, making new friends and expanding your professional network. You’ll have the benefit of meeting new people, and you'll also have the chance to learn new skills and build your resume.

3. Take advantage of the on-campus facilities

While it may be convenient to only come to campus for classes when you live off campus, it's crucial to make an effort to spend time on campus as much as possible. College is an investment, and it's essential to take advantage of the resources and amenities offered by the university.

You never know who you might meet or what new opportunities you might discover by spending more time on campus. Some ways to do this include: visiting popular social spots on campus like the student union or quad, studying in the campus library instead of at home, and taking advantage of recreational facilities such as a pool.

4. Spend time in the residence halls

Maximize your social connections by spending more time on campus, whether it's through classes, clubs, or hanging out with friends in the residence halls. The more time you spend on campus, the more likely you're going to make friends with others. If an event or party is happening, consider staying over at your friends' place to experience it with them.

Not only will you form closer bonds with your peers, but you'll also have a better sense of campus life. Remember, everyone is in the same boat as you, looking for ways to connect and make friends. Use this as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and take full advantage of everything your campus has to offer.

5. Make plans on the weekends and in the evenings

Living off campus may make it more tempting to stay in and study or relax during the weekends. However, it's essential to make an effort to spend time with friends outside of school if you want to maintain those connections. This can be an excellent opportunity to create meaningful memories and explore new places with friends instead of feeling isolated. It may also open up opportunities to meet new people and expand your friendship circle beyond the college environment.

6. Make friends with other commuters

Connecting with other students who also commute can be a great way to ease the challenges of commuting. You are not the only one facing this issue; there are likely many other commuters on campus. Crafting a relationship with other commuters can be beneficial as you'll have someone to relate to about the commuting experience.

Look for opportunities to connect with them and consider carpooling together. This can make the daily commute more enjoyable by sharing the experience with a travel buddy. Sharing the experience with others can make it more pleasant, and you may even build meaningful friendships.

7. Study in groups

Collaborating with classmates on studies can be a fantastic way to make friends. Whether studying for a test, working on a project, or simply reviewing materials, studying with others can make the experience more enjoyable and help you learn better. You can also reach out to classmates and ask if they'd be interested in forming a study group.

Commuting to school can be a significant challenge in itself. However, for commuter students, it can also come with its own set of unique difficulties - one of them being building friendships. Being on campus for a limited time can make it harder to connect with other students and form meaningful relationships.

However, it's still possible to make genuine connections in different ways with a little effort. Remember, while the commute may be a hassle, it's a small price to pay for the valuable connections you can make and the friendships you'll foster at college. So, don't let the unique challenges of being a commuter student discourage you from making friends. Be proactive, and make an effort to build lasting connections.

Williana Serve
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Williana is currently a freshman in college. She likes to learn new things especially involving Law & Advocacy. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she can be found watching TikTok, YouTube, or reading.