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Battling commuter student stereotypes

Running on Fumes

Steven Schoenwald

Issue date: 9/17/10 Section: Opinion
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One of the main criticisms I hear about commuters is that they don't get to participate in the "college experience." This is based on the idea that by living on campus, students mature and learn to be self-sufficient. Purchasing food, washing clothes, responsible partying, and other residential mainstays support improved time management and social skills. While the benefits gained through these experiences are undeniable, the suggestion that commuters are any less mature or self-sufficient than the average campus resident is nothing short of absurd. In actuality, commuting students are likely to be more street smart and practical than their on-campus counterparts.

First, commuters must travel to and from campus. Depending on where they live, the daily grind can take over an hour each way. Time management is paramount for these students, especially those who must prepare for early morning classes. And commuting by bus or rapid transit regularly leads to street smarts and common sense.

One of the biggest motivators for students to live on or near campus is the opportunity to get away from their parents. Conversely, most commuters live with their parents or guardians and continue to take on responsibility for family matters. Family emergencies have immediate repercussions for commuters. If there is landscaping, harvesting, or general maintenance to be done on a family-owned property, the stay-at-home college student is often called upon. Another factor that tends to affect commuters more than residential students is the work scene. While many residential students rely on work-study programs sponsored by the university, commuters tend to look for local jobs outside of the university. Which require additional time and interview skills not needed to get a work-study job.

Campus residents and commuting students both have hardships they must cope with. Though each group's daily experiences may differ, the level of maturity is comparable. If you know someone who is thinking about commuting to CWRU or another university, you can rest easy - commuting to school doesn't mean they'll turn into the stereotypical schmuck living with his parents until he's 30.

Steven Schoenwald is double majoring in biology and business management. He currently works at the Cleveland Clinic and commutes from Hinckley Township daily.
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