Typical College Experience

Eric Sterrett is a junior at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. His expected graduation is in December of 2016. He is a double major in accounting and finance. He is the current President of the Capital Investment Club where he connects local industry professionals with club members and administers a stock trading competition each semester. He is also a Co-Founder and the Vice President of Marketing for the Real Estate Club. He was an investment analyst intern with Valeo Financial Advisors and is currently an intern at Valeo once again, but this time is fulfilling the Financial Advisor Intern role. For fun, he likes to research and invest in stocks, solve Rubik’s cubes, and create models for objects he prints using a 3D printer he built. He is a black belt in Taekwondo and also practices Hapkido.

Being a student of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has not provided me with the typical college experience every student envisions in high school. According to U.S. News, 72 percent of IUPUI freshmen commuted to campus each day for classes in 2014. I was one of these students, and even now as a junior graduating in just three short semesters, I am still a commuter.

Being a commuter as most things comes with advantages and challenges. I will begin discussing the latter. The aspect of college life I struggled with most was connecting with new people to create friendships on a campus that I knew nobody. This anxiety is experienced by most college students, but is quickly relieved once arriving to their dorm surrounded by other students feeling the same anxieties. Friendships are quickly made and strong relationships flourish. How was I to make connections like this without this opportunity? I was lucky to have been a direct admit to the Kelley School of Business. This program worked to quickly build relationships through many group projects. Being in these groups allowed me to make lasting friendships with fellow students I speak with every day.

The biggest advantage of being a commuter is that I have been fortunate to continue living with my parents. This has provided me with the opportunity to save money on the high living expenses of being a college student. I also strongly feel that living with my parents greatly reduced my likeliness to attend inappropriate parties on campus. This is not to say any party should be avoided, but we are all fully aware of the parties that involve underage drinking, illegal drugs, and other activities that violate school policy.

Another advantage that comes along with living at home is there are far less distractions and this allows me to focus on my academics much easier than if I were surrounded by friends. Students living in dorms often feel pressured to always say yes to opportunities to spend time with friends, and this can negatively affect their schoolwork. When I get a text invite to a party or any outing with friends, it is always easy to reject it with an excuse when I’m further away from the action.

One option when living in a dorm is to have a random roommate. We can all easily see how this could turn out to be a great opportunity or the cause of a less than enjoyable semester or year. Either way, choosing this would allow you to grow your social skills and either learn how to get along with somebody who doesn’t always agree with you or make a friend whose company you might enjoy forever.

Commuting isn’t for everybody. It is a perfect fit for me because family is one of the most important things in my life. My family provides me with a great support system and they are full of knowledge when I am faced with new challenges and am unsure how to best react. For others, family can have a toxic affect. I would be careful in considering being a commuter student if you don’t get along easily with your parents. For a great amount of students, living in a dorm condones a better learning environment.

If you are attending or are going to attend a school that is in driving distance of your home and are unsure whether commuting is right for you, don’t worry! If you have weighed these pros and cons and the decision is a close one, chances are the outcomes would be similar. You can always try one or the other and if it doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, just revert to the other. College is full of decisions, and sometimes making the wrong decision is how we learn.

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