If you’ve narrowed down your college choices and one of your contenders is close to home, you may be wondering if commuting to school would be right for you.
Commuting looks different for everyone. Most students choose to live with their family at home, while others may live on their own off campus in their university’s general area. Some live five minutes away from campus and others live over an hour away.
For me personally, I live about 30 minutes from Cedarville University, where I attend school. Commuting over the past two years has helped me see some of the pros and cons.
Here are three reasons why commuting may be right for you.
1. You could save money
Let’s face it: college is expensive. Tuition, room and board, and books totaled together cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Commuter students still pay for tuition and books, but their room and board fees can look a lot different.
I live in my parents’ house and pack leftovers to eat for lunch. This saves me at least $4,000 on room and board. For me, gasoline is my biggest expense. I usually end up using a full tank every week.
For students considering living on their own off campus, I’d encourage you to compare the costs of both options. Room and board on campus may end up being cheaper or about the same as renting an apartment, buying meals, and paying for transportation. I can’t promise that commuting is always cheaper, but it does offer the potential to save some money.
Related: Commuting Tips for Off-Campus Students
2. You don’t have to sacrifice a social life
Many students choose to live in dorms for the social aspect of college. While living on campus does make it easier to be involved, commuters can still have a social life. Commuter students can still attend campus events and make friends through classes and extracurriculars. It can take extra effort to make friends when you don’t live on campus, but it’s certainly not impossible.
Commuting can also open your eyes to social activities beyond your university. There are so many ways to get involved in your local community through volunteering, joining activities that interest you, working off campus, etc.
I volunteer at a local history museum, attend church on Sundays, go to a small group on Tuesdays, and still work part time at my high school job. It’s been great to make friends at college while still maintaining relationships from high school.
3. You can be more involved with family
I know college is a time in life where students become adults and face the world on their own. There’s nothing wrong with having distance from family and learning to become independent. But for students who have the option, living at home can help you stay close to family. With older grandparents and several family health issues, I enjoy being able to see family frequently and helping them out.
Is commuting right for you?
While I think commuting is great, I know it’s not ideal for everyone. By being a commuter student, you’ll miss out on having a roommate and a traditional dorm experience. Some students also crave the desire to move away from home and be more independent.
But whether you choose to live on campus or off, don’t settle for or dismiss a college just because it’s close to home. The college experience is so much better when you truly like the college for what it has to offer.
The fact that Cedarville University is near my hometown made the decision of commuting possible, but that’s not why I chose to go here. I loved Cedarville as a school. I agreed with their Christian values, they offered the major I was interested in, and I knew the campus well from having attended summer camps and activities in the past. In fact, there’s another university way closer to my house that I could have chosen, but it just didn’t feel like “the one.”
I wish you the best of luck as you decide where to attend college and whether commuting is right for you!