To commute or not commute?

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Getting to class is hard enough when you live in the same town as your college campus. Imagine how much harder it would be to be a dedicated, prompt student if you lived outside of the confines of Saint Joseph. The question of commuting to college or living on campus is a question that a lot of students have to grapple with.

Western student Brittany Allen commutes to her classes from Albany, MO every week.
Western student Brittany Allen commutes to her classes from Albany, MO every week.

For most students, the decision is easy, based on being able to determine what kind of college experience they are looking for and their individual financial situations. But for some, the decision is more difficult, especially for college students coming to Western straight out of high school. Most of them have not lived on their own before so it’s easy for them to have a misconception of what dorm life or commuting will be like.

Missouri Western student Brittany Allen commutes from Albany, Mo four times a week and says that with $300 a month in gas it is better than the housing and meal plans that MWSU offers. With combined meal plan and housing, some costs total up to nearly $5,000 for each semester even before tuition. Although living off campus can save money it does have its disadvantages.

“I miss a lot of class because on some days I only have one,” Allen said. “I lose motivation to make the hour drive.”

Allen also said that a strategy she tries to use as much as possible is to take online classes. Online classes allow students to get their credits in the comfort of their own home no matter how far away they may be. Another popular method for commuters is to stack classes on only certain days so they don’t have to make the drive as often.

With every disadvantage there is an advantage to living off campus though. Aside from saving money many students who rent a house or an apartment like the freedom it provides. Cody Kinnaman, another MWSU commuter, has lived on campus before and says he prefers living off campus.

“It’s nice to be able to choose your own roommates,” said Kinnaman “and not have to show an I.D. just to go to your own room when you come in after midnight.”

Although living off campus can save you money and give you more freedom, some will say you miss out on the full college experience by not living in the dorms.

Missouri Western students Natascha Kracheel said she likes living in the dorms because anytime you are bored you can just go across the hall to find your friends.

“I think dorm life is an important experience because if you can live so close to strangers and still manage to get along you’ll learn to be more considerate yourself.”

So what are you really paying for whenever you live on campus? It isn’t just the room and food, but the experience to be with so many new and interesting people. Although, with tuition rates only going up and student debt becoming more of a problem each year, we all must decide if dorm life is worth our dollar.

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