(Orientation) What every commuter student should know

Benjamin VanHoose & Alex Delaney-Gesing

To smoothly sail through your freshman year, a completely different set of commandments is necessary for commuter to live by that those who live on campus don’t need to worry about. Without a dorm room and meal plan to enjoy, commuters could benefit from a few tips to survive at their home-away-from-home.

The subject first and foremost on most commuters’ minds (or at least this reporter’s) is food. Dining on campus without a meal plan can hit hard on the bank account. Limit yourself to an amount allocated daily for lunch or snacks. Pack a lunch and bring a refillable water bottle.

If you do allow yourself to splurge at on-campus eateries, remember that all restaurants in the Student Center are available to you at all hours of operation—the blackout between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. applies to meal plans so commuters can swiftly get a meal.

Once you outline your plans for sustenance, a place to eat, study and rest between classes is the next priority. All most all buildings on campus will have a lounge or study area. The most popular spots would be The Nest located on the second floor of the Student Center, a modern group study area on the fourth floor of the library and Jazzman’s Cyber Cafe in the Student Center lower level.

Now that you’ve found and claimed a chair and table where you can watch Netflix until your next lecture, ensure the binge-watching doesn’t come to an early end: pack a charger. Even if you leave the house in the morning with a 100 percent charge, bring the cord and adapter with you anyway. Better safe than sorry—especially when it comes to the electronic devices.

While it’s OK to isolate and catch up on some shows on your off time, force yourself to take off those headphones and interact more often. As a commuter, it’s easy to get in the rhythm of only visiting campus for classes and only viewing it as a place to go to school. There are several departments on campus with the sole desire to make commuters more active in the Kent State community.

The Center for Student Involvement has UCommute, a division that plans free events and advocates for the needs of commuters.

Out of Kent State’s 28,981 student population at the main campus, 22,538 either commute or live off-campus. Including the seven other regional campuses, 80 percent of the student body are commuter students, according to Rebecca Kapler, coordinator for Off-Campus and Commuter Services (UCommute).

UCommute consists of off-campus and commuter services within Kent State’s Center for Student Involvement (CSI). Students living off-campus often struggle with staying connected to campus life. To combat this problem, UCommute offers students various resources and opportunities.

“We send newsletters to students that give updates about events and programs going on around campus,” Kapler said. “We also plan Commuter Appreciation Week each semester so that commuter students can get to know each other and have a good break from classes, grab a snack and participate in an activity.”

 Also, join the Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization, a student-run group that handles all things commuting. COSO members are mostly seasoned in the ways of off-campus living, and offer advice and support that only a current student could offer. 

“COSO strives to help commuter students better understand the resources available to them on campus and become involved in campus events,” said Kevin Heller, executive director of COSO.


The organization hosts events for commuter students to attend throughout the semester such as Commuter Appreciation Week, Winterization clinics and Speed Roommating—similar to speed dating, but created to help students find off-campus roommates and housing.

“With the programs now set in place and the (weekly and) once-a-month meetings, we are able to have a more established connection with commuters and help them understand the resources available,” Heller said.

Applications for positions of the COSO executive board are available now for the 2016-2017 school year.

 There’s no reason for a commuter student to feel separate from the rest of campus life. Your time at Kent State is what you make of it, so don’t only spend it driving to, studying at and driving away from campus. Kent State is your second home, welcoming you to take advantage of all it has to offer.