The commuter's college experience

By: Lindsay Mulhollen

A commuter’s college experience is much different from the college experience most people expect; there are no instant friends, commuters won’t be eating the quintessentially dreadful food from a dining hall, they don’t have to buy a horde of organizers so their things can be easily found inside a miniscule dorm room and they won’t be rolling out of bed five minutes before class.

A commuter’s college experience goes more like this: drive to school, play hide-and-go-seek for a parking space, walk to class, attend class, walk to car, get stalked by other commuters trying to find parking, drive home. It becomes a daily pattern, and while the search for parking might be their first gripe, commuters are usually most dissatisfied with how difficult it is to make connections with fellow students and faculty.

For commuters, running into the same people on a campus of more than 29,000 students is tricky, and making friends with classmates is usually an activity that gets overlooked while processing the amount of material that has just been assigned in class. Class time, being the main point of contact for most commuters, leaves only a short window for them to be on campus every day, creating a limited university experience.

Although one may feel lonely as a commuter, he or she is not alone. One of the most effective ways to fix this situation is to become involved; it’s a way to expand this experience.

Senior Melanie Salerno has been commuting to Akron since her junior year of high school. As a commuter, she did not think she would feel so distanced from The University of Akron community.

“During my freshman year, I was on campus only for class. Joining a campus organization made my experience at The University of Akron more enjoyable. It helped me to become more involved, as well as to make friends that would not have been met in class alone; it made me feel more connected to the campus community.”

“Due to the fact that I didn’t live in a dorm, having the opportunity to be involved in various organizations associated with my major, Dance, has allowed me to feel more comfortable and connected with the dancers in my program, as well as the staff and the college itself,” senior Suzie Gunter said, who has been commuting since her freshman year.

Akron has 260 organizations listed on OrgSync.com. OrgSync lists clubs associated with various academic departments, club sports, community service groups, diversity and cultural groups, student government, honors societies, law societies, religious groups, residence life organizations, Greek life and special interest groups. The site requires registration, but once registered, it is simple to browse through organizations. OrgSync is new to Akron for Fall 2011, so many organizations have incomplete profiles, but the organizations themselves are still listed, so one can still see what Akron offers.

As a commuter student of The University of Akron, your college experience will depend mostly on you; it won’t be easy and it will require time and effort.

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