New commuter students face their own challenges

Rebecca Odell

On-campus residents a minority among all Kent State students

As masses of freshmen begin to unpack their bags and maneuver their belongings into residence halls during the Week of Welcome, it may seem as though everyone lives on campus.

However, students who live in campus housing are a minority at Kent State.

Approximately 22 percent of students at Kent State live on campus, according to the Center for Student Involvement Web site. The remaining 78 percent of students live off campus and choose to commute.

Commuting can have its advantages and disadvantages, said Alexia Boyles, senior early childhood education major.

Boyles said she decided to commute from her home 10 minutes from campus after living in a dorm for one semester. Commuting was convenient and cost-effective, but Boyles said she began to feel separated from campus life.

“I found that it was very easy for me to become secluded and lose that strong connection with the KSU campus and the sense of community I felt while living in the dorms once I moved off campus,” she said.

Boyles said working on campus and staying involved in student organizations helped her stay connected to the campus.

Jared Smith, Undergraduate Student Government senator for off-campus and commuter students, said commuters are at a disadvantage because they do not have a reason to stay on campus after class. They are not exposed to information about campus events the same way residence hall students are.

“If you’re a commuter, you do not have the same luxury as someone who lives on campus who always knows what’s going on,” Smith said.

Off-campus students are encouraged to learn more about events happening on campus through involvement with the Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization, said Michael Lillie, assistant director for the Center for Student Involvement.

Smith said COSO hosts a coffee hour for off-campus and commuter students about seven times a semester in the lower level of the Student Center. These events allow students to enjoy free coffee and breakfast foods while meeting new people and learning about events happening on campus.

COSO also hosts a housing fair in the spring to provide students with information about apartment complexes in the area. Student Legal Services provides information about precautions to take before signing a lease.

Commuters should become involved in student organizations because they are a great way to meet people and stay busy, Smith said.

“There are more than 200 (student organizations) here at Kent State, and if you get involved, you’re going to meet people,” he said.

Boyles said off-campus students can get connected to campus by introducing themselves to people, reading the newspaper, joining clubs and organizations that interest them or getting a job on campus. Hanging out in populated areas such as the Hub can help students meet new people, Boyles said.

“It makes the entire college experience so much more worthwhile, and all of these opportunities are readily available to those willing to explore them,” Boyles said.

Commuters who want to learn more about COSO can contact the organization by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (330) 672-2480.

Contact regional campuses reporter Rebecca Odell at [email protected].