By Ashley Fries
College life poses its own set of challenges. Whether you live on campus or you commuter, everybody has hurdles they have to overcome. No matter where you live, everyone has the social life challenge. Every college student has to figure out how to balance academics with friends, as well as making those friends in the first place. I am a commuter, and I found that it is extremely hard for me to balance having a social life while not living on campus. I sent out to survey the student body, to see if others were having this problem and find possible solutions. The results are from 32 anonymous Kutztown University students.
The Commuting Community
The first question asked was if you commute. Out of the 32 people who participated in this survey 24 people said yes, six people said no and two people said I don’t but I will be soon. A few people added comments as well, most saying that they live in the Edge or the Cliffs so it’s a ‘somewhat’ of a commute.
The next question asked how far the commute was. Out of the 32 people, 11 said under ten minutes. Two people said 10 to 20 minutes, two people said 20 to 30 minutes, six people said 30 to 40 minutes, three people said 40 to 50 minutes, and one person said 50 to 60 minutes. Furthermore, seven people replied other, six of which replied with they do not commute. However, the one person who answered other said “My commute takes about 70 to 90 minutes depending on traffic. I don’t drive so I take three buses to get to Kutztown. Two buses are inner city and one is an intercity bus.” That must say something about our University if someone is willing to go through that every day.
The Social Aspect
The following question asked was do you have a lot of friends on campus. Keeping in mind that 32 people replied, six of which live on campus, 13 people said yes they do. Whereas 15 people said no and five people said I did but I lost them. One of the comments said “Sometimes I feel like I do, but other times I’m not so sure.” I like this comment the most because I think it poses a serious question. Does commuting affect the quality of friendships? While I failed to ask this question in my survey, I personally believe that it does.
Since commuters are not constantly on campus, I feel that friendship quality could easily suffer. When trying to plan events, or spontaneous activities, commuters often get left out or are unable to attend. I feel that because the time spent with friends has to be so mechanically planned, it can lose a certain spark causing the friendship to become more distant. While I am sure this isn’t true in some cases, I am sure it is in some.
The next question was how many times a week do you go out or hang out with friends. Nine people said none, 12 people said one to two times, three people said three to four times, four people said five to six times, and four people said seven or more times. Due to these results I feel the majority of commuters are at least somewhat able to go out or hang out with friends while commuting.
Therefore, the next question asked if you were able to balance commuting and having a social life well. The results, overall, were rather spread out. Three people said definitely, six people said yes, four people said sometimes, four people said depends on the week, five people said kind of, but I wish I could more, three people said every now and then, four people said no, and three people said never.
Advice to Commuters
The next question was an open ended question on their personal advice for commuters to be able to have a social life. Many people seemed to not be sure on how to help, however, a few people had some really good advice. For example, one person said “Go to campus events when you have the time. It is still fun even though you don’t live there.”
Many people also mentioned getting involved with clubs, campus activities, intramurals, sports, special events, Greek life, don’t just come to class and leave right away. Another person said, “Become close with people who have places in town, so you can stay over every once in a while. Also, try inviting friends from school to come hang out where you live.”
A few people also mentioned just being friendly to people, talk with people in your class or that you’re walking with to try and make more friends. Even if you’re shy, still try and have conversations with people. For example, someone said “They always say get involved and I feel like that would help a lot of people, but also don’t be afraid to talk with classmates, or that one person you sit next to in class you never know what may become of it.”
The next question asked was how do you personally balance commuting and having a social life. Most of the answers were the same as their advice. This is probably so because the advice given was what works for them. However one person said, “Stay organized, that way you know what you need to get done and what spare time you have to do other things.” I believe this to be a really good comment as it could help a lot of people figure out how to balance the two. For the most part however, people mostly said talking to as many people as possible, having friends they can stay with, and time management. All of these are great ideas to help have a social life while commuting.
Challenges of Commuting
The following question asked if commuting makes it harder to make friends/have a social life than living on campus. Five people said it depends on a lot of factors, seven people said depends on the person, three people said no, and 17 people said yes. Overall, I believe everyone veered more towards it being harder.
One person commented, “I’ve made my friends here because I live on campus… but if I was always a commuter I know it would have been so much harder.”
However, another person said, “Yes but it does depend on the person and factors.” Which is also true, if you work, have children, have other responsibilities, are shy, etc. this will also affect the difficulty.
For reference purposes I also asked what: are the overall challenges with commuting and possible solutions for them. The answers were mostly parking, paying for gas, classes not being cancelled during bad weather, the time spent commuting, and group projects. Overall, the responses were all negative with limited solutions. Mostly because they are not problems we as students are able to fix, but deal with because we love the school.
To conclude I asked, would you rather live on campus or commute? Based on the pervious answers being so negative, and all the problems addressed I accepted the majority to say live on campus. However, only 11 people said they’d rather live on campus and 21 people said they’d rather commute.
Therefore, even with the problems commuting may pose it appears most people would still rather deal with them then live on campus. One person commented I like the freedom of home, but I wish it were much closer.” Overall, while living on campus and commuting both pose their own challenges, based on the results of this survey people would rather have the freedom of commuting and deal with the difficulties commuting pose than live on campus and lose their freedom.