Hello, lovelies. As you all know, I spent my first two years commuting to college and am spending my last two years living in a dorm. I’m in my senior year now, but I thought it would be fun to write a compare and contrast post discussing those experiences. I wrote five pros and cons for each to give you an idea of what each were/are like. I hope you enjoy.
It’s easier to focus on my school work – I get so much more done living on campus. When I commuted from home, I would try to finish all my work during the day at the library before taking the train back home because I could not focus for long periods of time in my bedroom. Since I live on campus, I have easy access to the library and student center, which helps me be more productive.
- Related – 10 Ways I Refocus Myself During The Day
I’m so much cleaner– I don’t know if it’s the fact that I don’t keep a lot of stuff in my dorm or that I have my own space, but I became a total neat freak after moving out. I vacuumed and dusted every week. I put everything away after using it. It’s honestly kind of funny seeing the difference between my childhood bedroom and my dorm room because I am so much more motivated to clean a space that I pay for. (I also have really bad allergies, so Ifeel it when the room gets too dusty)
- Related –How To Keep Your Dorm Room Ridiculously Clean(My Weekly Cleaning Routine)
I save two hours per day from not commuting – This is definitely the biggest pro. I could call this extra time to procrastinate, but it’s nice to come back to my dorm room if I have a long break between classes to rest for a bit.
It’s easier to hang out with friends – I think commuting taught me what making and keeping up with friends post-grad is like. I would have to make specific plans and set time in my schedule in order to hang out with people. Now that I live on campus, I can hit up a friend a few hours before, even if it means driving to their apartment closeby.
I have a social life and can go out at night – I rarely went out on weeknights when I commuted from home. This was partially because I was tired and didn’t want to put in the time to drive back to campus, but it was also the fact that I was living with my parents. There is a certain type of courtesy you give to your parents when you live with them. I would tell them where I was going whenever I went out and I would come back at a decent hour so that they wouldn’t have to wake up. Parties aside (since I rarely go to them anyway), I could hang out at my best friend’s apartment until 2 AM on a Tuesday without thinking about worrying my parents. Nor did I have to wake up an hour and a half before my class in order to get there on time the next morning. I’m able to go to school events and free movie screenings much more easily, which has made enjoying the social aspects of college a lot easier.
- Related –How To “Survive” Living With Your Parents In College
I miss my family and friends at home – I go home every weekend because my brother has autism, but I still miss them throughout the week. It’s harder to meet up with friends on weekends because I have work and I want to spend the majority of my time there with my brother. I do make time to drive back during the week if there are family members visiting from out of town, but that’s a lot of hassle that I didn’t have to deal with during the school week back when I commuted.
- Related –What It’s Like To Move Out For College
I need to prepare my own food and remember to eat healthily – I was a lot better about eating healthy last year, but I haven’t been good about eating enough fruits and vegetables every day recently. It’s mostly the vegetable part. When there’s no one but yourself to pester you about health, it’s easier to just eat just pasta for dinner and call it a day. It’s also just less strain when someone else is preparing food for you. Things would be very different if I had a meal plan or if my mom didn’t send food with me to school, but I know that this will be much more annoying once I graduate and live on my own.
- Related –12 Healthy Habits Worth Starting In College
I have student loans now – I don’t have as many student loans as most people (it’s only four figures) and I should be able to pay it off before interest starts accruing, but I still don’t like having them. I was able to avoid student loans in my first two years of college, but I took them out to pay for my university housing instead of paying it off in cash at the beginning of each semester. It was just easier that way. Living at home was definitely cheaper than living on campus.
I don’t have my own room anymore – I’m pretty introverted in that I need my alone time between hanging out with people. I always feel giddy whenever I have the room to myself because I can listen to music or watch Netflix without headphones. I actually like all the roommates I’ve had so far, but it’s nice to have some privacy every once in a while. (It’s also harder to be productive because we end up talking)
Leaving my special needs sibling every week is really hard – This is why I didn’t post anything on Tuesday. I was finishing writing the post about leaving my special needs sibling for the first time but didn’t finish it. (It’ll be out at some point this month). I mention this all the time, but leaving my brother every week is very hard. He’s always so sad when I leave. Whenever I tell him I’m going back to college, he says, “No” and holds onto me. You’ll read more about that in the upcoming post.
It helped me become more financially stable – Commuting my first two years is definitely a huge part of why I was able to travel to Europe for a month using my own money. It also helped finance a lot of my other trips throughout college. Because I didn’t have to pay for rent or a meal plan, I was able to put the majority of my income into savings, which led to a lot of smart financial decisions like funding an emergency fund and building my credit.
- Related –The Biggest Financial Steps I Took Before Starting To Travel
It was easier to stay connected with family and close friends– I became so much closer with my parents during my first two years of college, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I was able to visit friends at other universities nearby because they were a lot closer to each other. And honestly, the majority of my close friends and family live in metro-Atlanta anyway, so it was easier to stay connected with them when I lived in that area full-time.
Bigger bed– Last year was my first time (regularly) sleeping in a twin bed. I’ve surprisingly never fallen off of it and it’s not uncomfortable, but I am tall and have long limbs, so it’s nice to spread out every weekend in my childhood bedroom.
It was easier to read regularly–Since I was on the train or driving every day back when I commuted, I spent almost two hours a day reading, whether that was by listening to an audiobook while driving or reading a physical book on the subway. I obviously still read a lot of books now, but I need to actively make time for that while it was automatically in my schedule before.
- Related –How To Start Reading More Books In College
Food was always prepared for me– I never had to worry about eating or cooking because my mom always had food ready for me whenever I came home. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. She sends food with me every week, but it’s not the same as a hot cooked meal.
I spent two hours commuting every day when I could have been doing other things – This was definitely the most annoying part of commuting. It wasn’t that bad because I spent the majority of the time readings, but there is so much I could have gotten done in that time. It was also super frustrating whenever I was stuck in traffic, but I found shortcuts and calculated my classes carefully. I do miss being on the train each day. It’s easy to romanticize your life and imagine your in a movie when you’re on a train. It became such a regular part of my life at one point that I forgot how exciting it was until a friend of mine came downtown with me and she was SO EXCITED to be on the MARTA that it made me appreciate getting to ride it every day.
- Related –16 Ways To Make The Most Of Your College Commute
I wasn’t able to join any clubs – Most club meetings are held at night and after a long day of school, I just wanted to go home. Now that I live on campus, I can go back to my dorm whenever I have a long break and am tired, but when I commuted, I couldn’t really rest in between commitments the way I can now. (I remember I once laid on the floor in the library). It was just easier to not join clubs.
- Related –25 Things To Do In Between College Classes
I had to run everything by my parents – My parents are actually really cool and were happy whenever I went out because they didn’t want me to miss out on the college experience. I would go out to see friends all the time, but it was rarely at night and I would have to text them updates all the time to let them know I was safe (which makes sense.) Like I said before, it’s something you should do when you live with your parents so that they don’t worry. I text them updates now whenever I tell them I’m going out at night, but the nice thing about living on my own is that I don’t have to run everything by them or worry about worrying them if I want to stay out longer.
FOMO – I think everyone who doesn’t have the typical college experience has felt this. Whenever you think about college growing up, you imagine dorm life and the parties you’ll go to and the friends you are going to make. This makes living at home can make life feel a bit stagnant. I think I would have felt this to a greater degree if ALL my friends were living on campus, but we were pretty evenly split. In my group of six friends from middle school, two of us commuted from home, two of us lived on campus, and the final two were taking gap years. I also had a few friends from high school who lived on campus, but it wasn’t out of character for students to live at home to save money. I’m also one of the only Bengali people to move to a dorm, to begin with, so there were no adults asking me why I was at home at the time since it’s what’s expected in my culture. Anyway, even though I had friends who didn’t take the typical college track, hearing the fun stories my friends who did live in dorms told me did make me feel like I was missing out on a lot of the fun parts of college.
It made making friends more difficult – I did make friends when I commuted, but it’s a lot easier to make and maintain friendships now that I live on campus. When I commuted, the majority of my interactions with my friends were during class or when we made plans to meet up. There wasn’t as much natural overlap in our days, which is what builds most friendships in the first place. I know a lot of commuters who just stay on campus until 10 PM or just stay the night at a friend’s house at some point during the week, which makes college more fun, but that wasn’t really an option for me. Overall, it’s comparatively harder to make friends as a commuter.
- Related –6 Ways To Be More Intentional About Your Friendships
Overall, I’m glad I split up my college experience the way I did. Sometimes I wish that I lived on campus from the get-go because I would have been able to enjoy the social aspects of college for longer, but I’m grateful for the financial stability living at home gave me. It’s the reason I’ve been able to take so many amazing trips the past few years. I hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll see you next time.
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What was your experience commuting like compared to living on campus?