They walk among the traditional student body, making it hard to tell them apart. They might eat in the cafeteria, study in the library or even sleep in the computer lab. But the college life of a commuter student can vary greatly from their traditional counterparts.
Planning is essential as a commuter student. Remembering to grab that textbook before leaving home can be the difference between passing or failing an exam. Even making it to class on time presents an obstacle for the student who lives more than 20 minutes away from campus.
The commuter student lives a sort of “campus life lite,” a trade-off, that presents both benefits and challenges. “I thought it would be rather pointless to spend a lot of extra money to live five minutes away from my own home,” said senior Katelynn Mabe. Her words echo the thoughts of many commuter students. Commuters don’t pay room and board, so it provides a huge financial boost at the cost of convenience. “Being a commuter, my normal responsibilities at home do not go away whatsoever. I still have to cook, clean, pick up my brother, do my homework, lead church activities, take my family places, and take care of our animals. It is rather hard to be a commuter and a full-time student,” said Mabe. On top of these added responsibilities, practical issues affect the commuter as well. Junior Josiah Six said, “Parking is also another issue that commuters must consider. I have most of my classes at the Buchwald, so I find it easier to park on campus and just take the shuttle back and forth to classes. The lack of a true meal plan is another area that affects commuters. Personally, I get a commuter meal plan each semester as I usually eat lunch most days on campus.”
Indeed, life for the commuter may bring added challenge. But it’s clearly not impossible – there are nearly 400 commuters currently enrolled at MVNU, each of them living with this duality of cost effectiveness and added responsibility. In an effort to better accommodate the large commuter population, MVNU has opened additional parking this semester and relaxed rules on where commuter students may park and have updated the commuter-meal plan. They continue to work with the students to improve their overall college experience. The commuter need not sacrifice family connection or finances for their education. “As hard as it is,” said Mabe, “I would still prefer to stay home. I love my family and I am blessed to be able to commute from home while I complete my degree. I would probably miss them all too much.”
In the end, each finds their own way. Commuter or not, each student at MVNU works hard in an effort to shine forth. Some just go about it in a different way than others.