Westminster's commuter student experience

Campus commuters park their cars in front of Foster Hall on Westminster College's campus. Commuters make up 75 percent of Westminster's student body, according to information from the college's website. Photo by Chloie Dale

Campus commuters park their cars in front of Foster Hall on Westminster College's campus. Commuters make up 75 percent of Westminster's student body, according to information from the college's website. Photo by Chloie Dale

Students living on campus have no curfew, no commute and no parents telling them to pull their weight around the house. Living on campus means students have a place to go when they feeling sick, to have lunch in peace or to take an afternoon nap between classes.

For commuter students, college is a different experience.

Commuters make up 75 percent of Westminster’s student body, according to information from the college's website. Many walk, drive, bike or take public transportation.

Despite the group’s prevalence on campus, Westminster has discontinued some commuter resources. The college used to have the Commuter Activities and Resources program, which was a way for commuters to mentor other commuters. However, the Dean of Students Office didn’t have the means to provide the service anymore, according to Oliver Anderson, coordinator of student involvement, leadership and orientation.

For some students, commuting can be a source of stress.

Skye Galley, a junior finance and marketing major, is away from home 8-16 hours a day depending on her school and work schedules (not to mention commuting time) and said she wishes there was a commuter space on campus to sleep or put her homemade lunch in a fridge. However, she said the benefits of commuting outweigh the challenges.

Galley has commuted for three years and said living at home cuts down on her expenses because her parents’ fridge is usually full and the bills are paid.

“Commuting has made it easier for me to graduate debt-free with two degrees before turning 21,” she said.

Shay Hudson, a first-year student at Westminster, lives down the street from the school and walks or bikes every day. She said that although she’s realized living at home doesn’t give her the same freedom her peers get, she recognizes the benefits.

“At the end of the day, I get to leave school and get to disconnect from all of it,” Hudson said.

Hudson recommends other commuters meet as many people as they can.

“Spend time here, but also don’t be afraid to go home,” she said.

Sean Distance, a sophomore, lives at home with his grandma. He said he doesn’t have to pay for housing but said commuting means his schedule sometimes gets mixed up. Commuters have to schedule for their commute, which can add on extra minutes, and coming to school can take him up to 55 minutes with public transportation.

“Plan your time wisely,” he recommended.

Because commuting can be a challenge for some students, Anderson proposed a new idea: starting a student club to help commuter students at Westminster get involved, state their feelings and have a mentor to guide them.

“It creates a space where we can get a genuine feedback from students on how we can offer better resources to make the experience better,” Anderson said