Staying Put for College


My name is Mika Lindsay Ouellette. I live in Bangor, ME. I am a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Orono. I hold a Master of Education and Bachelor of Arts degree in English. I currently have two jobs. My first is as a long-term substitute high school French teacher. My second is teaching one section of English composition at Husson University. In the future, I hope to have only one full-time teaching position.

As you can imagine, I’m quite busy but I’m also somewhat of a home body. When I do get free time, I like to spend it with my family. Although I’m an only child, I have a large extended family. This time with them gives me relief from the stress of my daily life while I am in school.

It’s no secret that times are tough right now. You thought that you had your dream school picked out until you realized how much money it would cost to live and study there. You look at the campus that is near your home and decide to attend school there and commute. Luckily, you have some classes online so you only have to be there three days per week.

When you tell your friends, who are all going away to college, about your decision they think you are making a mistake by not going with them. You shrug it off, thinking that with the Internet and the phone you will be just fine when they all leave because you will all keep in touch. However, when school starts and all of your friends are away at college too caught up in their new lives on campus to even call, you begin to feel blue.

You start to think your friends were right. After all, you are still at home with your nagging parents, you have almost no friends because you do not live on campus and you practically live in your car. You feel lonely. You can’t afford to transfer schools so you wonder what you are going to do. You are not alone. You are one of many commuter students.

Life as a commuter can be lonely, so that is why it is essential to get involved in extracurricular activities or find a work study job. Most club meetings and work study shifts occur on the days you have classes so you can choose how many days you are on campus. You can meet other students like you by taking part in these activities and make some new friends.

Who knows? Maybe you can actually use your commuter meal plan and join your new friends for lunch in the cafeteria rather than eating your homemade sandwich on the front steps of the dining hall like you usually do. You do have a lunch break between classes and you can buy lunch on the days you would be on campus for the semester.

Also, if you are lucky enough to have some extra time on your lunch break, perhaps your new friends could also be your new gym buddies. If you are worried about the dreaded “Freshman 15,” you don’t have to be. Many schools give you a gym membership with your tuition payment. You can take advantage of it by going for a walk around the track, going swimming or playing a pick-up game of basketball with your friends.

Speaking of your new friends, if you do decide to take part in extracurricular activities, time management and schedule planning will be crucial so that you do not get burnt out. If you have a work study job, your supervisor will be happy to accommodate your class schedule. Many schools now have a wide offering of online courses that are perfect for commuter students who want schedules that will allow them to study on their own time. Also, if you know that you do not like to drive at night, you can plan to have most of your courses during the day.

By following this advice, you can ensure a safe, happy and healthy experience as a commuter student. Instead of crying over your peanut butter and jelly sandwich about how you made a mistake by not leaving for college like your old friends did, you will be glad you stayed put. Even though you will not have the traditional college experience as seen in movies such as “Animal House,” you will still have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

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