The summer between graduating high school and moving into your college dorm room is one of excitement and the idea of living in a new location for the first time is an intriguing one. A new chapter of your life is about to begin and you cannot wait.
You finally get to enjoy the fabled college experience. You’re away from your parents, creating your own class schedule and getting away from the monotony of a high school class schedule, waking up whenever you want, eating whenever you want, and more. There are so many new things that going to college brings to your life.
However, it’s important to note that just because something is new doesn’t mean it is better.
I lived on campus for two years and boy was it a rollercoaster. Some great times and some pretty awful times. Days of great fun with your friends and days where there is nothing you want more in life than to drop out.
Starting in my junior year, I switched to commuting and the amount of regret I have is below zero. The idea of the college experience sounds great as an angsty teenager, but it’s not for everyone and I can confidently say it wasn’t for me.
There are so many things that make commuting superior to living on campus. Here are a few of them.
Living in a dorm is not free. Living at home (usually) is! The amount of money you save from living at home instead of paying to live in a glorified prison cell is extreme and helps relieve some of the stress of paying off college loans when you finally get that degree. There’s also less pressure to spend money on things like food because you’ll have meals prepared for you and won’t be reliant on paying for meals everyday like you will living on campus. This brings me to my next topic: the food.
Having access to all the different foods on campus seemed amazing when I first got on campus. It took me almost one full semester until I realized that it wasn’t. The food on campus isn’t the worst thing in the world (it’s definitely not great), but there are only so many Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and cheeseburgers one can consume day-in and day-out until you get sick of it.
Then there’s the issue with off-campus food. West Chester is filled with enough different food options around town to try a new food every day. That’s great, right? Well, no. We’re broke. Meal swipes and flex can only be used on campus and limited off-campus locations and as 18 and 19-year-old kids, it’s unlikely to have the kind of money to burn at restaurants every other day.
By far the most important part is actually having a home cooked meal. Home cooked meals beat fast food 98% of the time and not having to ruin my health as each day passes by is a huge positive for commuting.
Having your own room
Roommates are an interesting topic of conversation. If you have your roommate randomly selected like I did, your college experience could depend on it. Luckily, I didn’t have too much trouble my first year and, in my second year, I lived with a friend that I grew close to during my first year, so I didn’t have one of the nightmare experiences that many seem to have.
However, there’s nothing like living on your own at the home and room you grew up in all your life. Not being stuck in a jail cell-esque room sleeping 5 feet away from another human and constantly dealing with the distractions of you both trying to do different things at the same time is great. Sharing a TV, video game consoles, a fridge, and anything else with another person can get a little annoying and anyone who is lived with a roommate knows that.
You can’t get homesick if you live at home
I only live about 15 minutes away from campus and even I felt homesick every now and then. It’s just a natural way to feel when you leave your home for the first time and start to live on your own. I would often go home on weekends for pretty much whatever reason I could think of. A good meal was important and seeing my dog and family was always welcomed, but undoubtedly the most important reason to want to be at home: sleeping in my own bed.
This is just self-explanatory. Anyone who has ever lived in a dorm room knows the bed situation is a disaster. Go up to any freshman or sophomore living in Tyson Hall and ask them what they are looking forward to the most about going home. I can guarantee you will hear the sentence “I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed” multiple times. It’s just a college tradition to provide dorm-room occupants with some of the worst mattresses society could muster up, so being able to go home and sleep in a real bed that is wider than the human anatomy is one of the greatest aspects of being a commuter.
If you’re considering commuting, don’t hesitate. Sure, there are some drawbacks, like not being a short walk away from some of your friends or having to take the extra time to go to campus early and drive home late, but I can tell you the benefits greatly outweighed the negatives for me personally. If the college atmosphere just doesn’t seem like your thing, commuting is a great alternative that still allows you to live a normal lifestyle.