Commuters deal with changes

Leslie Schelat

Maria Price’s first day of college began like that of most other college freshmen.

She showered, collected her books and checked her class schedule for the day. But rather than saying bye to her roommate and closing her residence hall room door behind her, Price said goodbye to her mom and walked to her car.

Price, who now lives in Kent, commuted from her parent’s home in Stow for two years. And she is not alone.

At Kent State, approximately 30 percent of freshmen do not stay in the dorms, said Wayne Schneider, senior institutional information officer.

So while students in dorms are adjusting to roommates, shared bathrooms and meal plans, commuters are making other changes to their daily routines.

These students have to get up early enough to drive to campus, catch a bus and walk to class.

“It was a hassle and a lot of time wasted,” said Price, who made the 15-minute drive to Kent five days a week.

Commuters have to make friends in class or find other ways to meet people since they do not have the forced interaction of dorm life. When it comes time to get involved in on-campus organizations, they have to make return trips to campus for meetings and events, which are often scheduled hours after day classes end.

“I would hang out more (if I lived on-campus),” said Jason Pullin, junior business management major, who commutes from Munroe Falls.

Going out at night may pose a new challenge, also. This social interaction outside of class becomes desirable and commuter students may become jealous of the freedom and independence on-campus students possess. Whereas on-campus residents may come and go as they please, many commuters still face rules and curfews from parents.

“I still had the parental supervision that kids in the dorms didn’t have,” said Price.

A common issue is that parents of commuter students believe that while their child is living at home, the same rules should remain in place. This can lead to fights and tension as students want to fully enjoy their college experience.

Other parents lighten up on rules but still expect communication and responsibility.

“I don’t have a curfew and they don’t ask where I am,” Pullin said. He said his parents are not very strict, but he knows it is still their house and their rules.

Because it is difficult for commuters to adjust, Kent State makes an extra effort to involve these students on campus life. Special orientation programs are offered to commuter students at the beginning of their freshman year to make the transition easier.

In addition to the many groups available to be involved in, the Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization caters to the specific needs of commuters and students who live off-campus. It offers assistance in finding housing and roommates and hosts events to encourage involvement of off-campus students.

However, these efforts cannot stop tension or help the adjustment at home. Keeping open lines of communication and being willing to compromise are important to making a commuter’s life work.

Contact general assignment reporter Leslie Schelat at [email protected].