My name is Joshua Stowers and I am the features director of an up-and-coming magazine called ELSV MAG based in New York. I love writing, photography and doing freelance work. I hope to become a well-known, published journalist & photographer in the near future.
Prospective students aiming for college this upcoming spring semester have more to think about than notebooks, deadlines and syllabi. They have to consider which of the two makes more sense: commuting to school each day or living on campus.
In some cases, the decision is fairly simple: dorm on campus, immerse yourself in the college life, meet tons of new faces and truly experience independency living on your own.
Living on campus not only opens the gateway to collegiate success wider, but it can open students up from a psychological standpoint. Being around new people and a variation of cultures almost forces students to network, grow mentally and gather meaningful experiences that will better equip them later in life outside of college.
Surely no one wants to face loneliness or be forced to catch up with friends and classmates when their commuter schedule fits best.
As promising as living on campus may sound, there are several factors to consider such as cost, financial aid, housing arrangements, distance and location.
Cost is a major factor due to the rapidly increasing housing expenses for most college living arrangements. Whether you have a scholarship or not, expenses such as, a meal plan, single room and/or suite rates and security deposits are factors to consider.
If cost is a major issue for you, luckily there is help to save the day.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as FAFSA) is the starting point for receiving money to afford college. FAFSA is not only used to apply for federal financial aid but also to apply for State of New Jersey financial aid programs and to qualify for certain loan programs. Through work assistance programs such as the Institutional Work-Study Program (IWS) and the Federal Work-Study Program (FWS), part-time jobs are awarded to students who have financial need.
In loan assistance programs like Federal Stafford Loans, Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), and CLASS Loans (College Loans to Assist State Students), money can be loaned to help cover the cost of tuition, room and board, or even the total amount of attendance.
Distance and location are additional points of interest that must be considered. For example, if home for you is in New Jersey and your school of choice is located in Nebraska it may be a great idea to place living on campus at the top of your priority list – just maybe. Alternatively, if your school of choice is located a few minutes away by car or a train ride away commuting would be a viable option.
Location is primarily a war between urban settings and suburban/rural settings. Are you from the city and want a change of pace to a more relaxed campus life? Are you from the boondocks of Mississippi and wish to experience the exciting adventures of a bustling city? Be sure to schedule campus visits to truly acquire a feel for the atmosphere of the campus.
With living on campus being the more desirable option, commuters are in a league of their own. Commuting to school can be rough, starting at the early 9:00 a.m. rush and possibly ending on a very lacking day-to-day college experience.
The last thing a commuter wants to do is spend all their time commuting, leaving no time to get involved with extracurricular activities or even no time to fully grasp all there is to offer from the college life. For some who do commute each day from home, it’s a rock in a hard place. They may sacrifice a few experiences but simultaneously save tons of money and most likely dodge student loan debt as well.
Commuting does not always have to be a sort of distant or halfway experience. Living off campus, usually in an apartment, is a very popular option chosen by many commuters. Off-campus apartments can keep you out of home, if that were an issue, and give you the freedom and privacy of your own habitat still relatively close to campus. Some financial aid programs will assist with off-campus housing and in other cases coming out-of-pocket may be the only option. It varies by school and financial aid awarded to each student.
In the midst of indecisiveness, go forth with which is more preferable to you as well as more beneficial. Create a list of pros and cons for both commuting to school and residing on campus, and whichever list bears more desirability is essentially your answer.