Number of students who commute slightly increases

Jessica Roblin

Count includes those living near campus

For campus residents every morning, an alarm blares signaling the time to roll out of bed and traipse over to class 10 minutes away. For Terry Geer, that walk sounds really good.

“I have such a small window of time from when I leave work to when I have to sit in my desk in Franklin Hall,” said Geer, electronic media production major. Geer works full time at the Cleveland Clinic in Euclid and makes the hour commute from the hospital to Kent State two days a week.

Students such as Geer populate Kent State’s commuter campus.

Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness statistics show a slight increase in female commuters from 63 percent at the end of the 2007 school year to 65 percent in Fall 2008. Male commuters increased more, from 67 percent to 70 percent at the Kent campus.

The university considers anyone who lives off campus a commuter, even those renting places nearby. So not everyone has as far a drive as Geer. Kevin Grace, junior business major, lives just off campus with only a one-minute drive, or five-minute walk.

“I live off campus because I am 21 now but also because I want more freedom, and you don’t have that in the dorms,” he said.

He said he misses the community atmosphere and quick walks to class when he lived on campus previous years.

“I like the freedom of not always being under watch like I felt when I lived on campus,” junior education major Colleen Wick said.

Wick drives from Akron to avoid the extra costs of living close to or on campus, she said. Geer feels the same way.

“I have half the debt as everybody else around me,” Geer said.

Since starting college in 2002, he’s paid off expenses throughout the semesters.

The cost of commuting from an hour away can still beat the average cost of living on campus or renting nearby. Consider a full five-day week commuting an hour to Kent State. With 26 m.p.g and gas prices at $2 a gallon, a year of commuting would be a little more than $1,000.

In a $350 a month apartment off campus, the living cost is more than $4,000 a year. Living in Tri-Towers for a year would be about $2,500, according to Kent State’s Web site for 2009-2010 room and board rates (plus a mandatory food plan).

The cost might be low, but other factors come into play for commuters like Geer. He loses homework time to driving time. The busy schedule can be difficult, he said.

“In one way it’s good because it keeps me busy and focused,” said Geer. “In another way, it’s just exhausting.”

Contact student affairs reporter Jessica Roblin at [email protected].