Commuting to College (Pros and Cons)

There are many different decisions that you have to make when it comes to college. You have to decide where you want to go, who you want to be, etc. You also have to decide whether to live on campus or commute to school and live at home.

Now, obviously, you have to live on campus if you choose a school that is far away from your hometown, But, if your school is somewhat close to your hometown, you may be deciding about whether or not you should commute from home and not live on campus.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question and it is definitely just going to depend on the individual. This post isn’t going to tell you what the right decision to make is, it is simply just going to talk about some pros and cons that way it may help you see and decide what is best for you.

I did not personally choose this route because my school was too far war from my home to do so, however, I have had a few friends that did commute and it worked well for them. Either way, you are getting your degree, so make the right decision for you no matter what anyone else says or thinks.

Now, you are classified as a commuter student if you go to a community college. However, most community colleges don’t have housing in general. So basically when I am referring to a commuter student, I am referencing a student who has the opportunity to pay for and live on campus but chooses not to by commuting from their home because they live close enough to do so.

My next-door neighbor has a daughter that just started college. She is going to a 4-year university and she lives at home opting to drive to the college in our town. She does not have the room and board cost since they live in the town of the university she is attending.


Save Money

Of course, the main benefit of commuting is going to be the amount of money that you are saving. Room and board are usually one of the most expensive parts of your first couple years of college. I know that for me personally my first year of college I spent over $7,000 to $8,000 on room and board.

This obviously differs from school to school.

That is definitely a lot of money and if you’re already struggling financially or trying to take out loans you definitely might want to think about saving the extra money.

However, you can always find different grants and scholarships to help cover this cost. Don’t let money control your decisions until you exhausted all the different ways that you could come up with the money.

You can always cancel your housing right before all the money is actually due with no charges usually. So you could always just wait and see if you get all the scholarships grants and loans you applied for before you fully make your decision.

It’s sucks that money has to determine a lot of our decisions but that’s just how life works nowadays. So if you do choose to commute you’re definitely going to save a decent amount of money.  You also have to take into consideration if you were going to have to be paying rent for where you were staying.

Sometimes parents will make their children pay rent when they don’t go away to school.

You may also have to take into consideration if you’re going to have to pay for your own food. All of these different things are going to be different for every person. If you don’t have to pay rent or for most of the food then you’re definitely going to save money.

Focus on Schoolwork

Another good thing about commuting can be focusing on your studies. If you are someone who gets easily distracted then living on campus with all of the different people and things to do. Staying at home and commuting may be the best thing for you. This is definitely another thing that is up to each individual because everyone knows what they are and are not capable of.

In general, being at college will teach you how to balance everything in your life. If you know you’re already really bad at balancing things, maybe commuting to school could help you get the grades that you need to get. 

My cousin said that one of her favorite parts about commuting was that she never had to worry that she wasn’t gonna have enough time to focus on her studies. She said that a lot of her friends had dropped out of certain classes because they did not balance their life well.

She liked it because she could go to campus whenever she wanted to go including going there a night on the weekend. Yet, she wasn’t tempted by every second of every day to do things that were counterproductive to studying.

You’re still a part of the entire university and you can come and go whenever you please but you just don’t have to be there every second of every day. Commuting is just the difference between making College a place for just your education or home in general.


College Experience

One downside to being a commuter student that a lot of people worry about is the college experience. Obviously, if you’re living on campus and trying to find roommates are going to have the opportunity to meet so many new people and have so many different opportunities.

Not that you don’t have the opportunities at your college if you are a commuter student. You just don’t necessarily have all the opportunities to meet and be surrounded by new people.

This is once again something that is completely up to you. If you don’t really like a lot of social settings or you are interested in living in a small dorm room with a stranger than this is probably going to be the right decision for you to be a commuter student.

One of my favorite parts of my college experience is all the different people that I get to meet. Although I did meet some of them in my classes, clubs, extracurriculars, I have met many more through the place where I live.

This is not always how it works for everyone and it is definitely not the only way that you can make friends, but it does help. I became so close to these people because I had dinner with them every night, talk to them until one in the morning many nights, and basically just spent almost all of my free time with them.

I personally do not feel that I would’ve been as close to the people that live around me if I didn’t have all the time that I did spend with them. Just depends on what you were looking for to get out of college.

If you’re looking for more than just an education then you might want to look more towards living on campus. However, you still have four years to find people, make friends, and gain opportunities. Also if you’re a commuter student you could always move into some sort of an apartment or something closer to campus the third or fourth year of college.

Commute to Collge

Depending on how far away from your school or where your school is located, traveling may be something that becomes cumbersome. Whether it’s because you’re going to a school in a city where there is a lot of crazy traffic or whether that’s because you’re putting a lot of miles on your car.

I live on campus and I didn’t even have my car there. However, I did have a friend that commuted and she said the driving didn’t bother at all. So once again it’s something that’s definitely up to your discretion.

Just make sure that you’re not trying to commit to a college that’s too far away. If your school is 40 to 45 minutes away in a big city you could be looking at an hour to an hour and a half of travel time which is a lot of time taken away from each and every day.

You also want to make sure that you have a car that’s going to hold up driving to and from school every day. I know I bought my car in high school and it is a used car and it’s probably going to die here any second so I would be very nervous to use my car to commute to and from school every day.

These are just the types of things that you have to think about and prepare for. It doesn’t matter if you are a commuter or not you’re still getting a degree and you’re still getting to attend the University of your choice.


Overall there are many good and bad things about commuting so it’s definitely something that is up to you. Figure out what is most important to you about your college experience and go from there.

Money matters a lot and it was one of the big problems for me when trying to figure out where I was going to school, but eventually, you’ll make it work in the end.

Even if you have loans taken out,  it’ll be worth the experience that you get in those four years. Don’t let money ruin anything for you and make sure you’re making the right decision for you to have a great time and a great education.

If interested in commuting to a local college check out the pros and cons of community college.

You can also read The Disengaged Commuter Student Fact or Fiction. (an Indiana University Study)

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