By CASEY HOLSTEIN
Ramapo College commuter students say there both advantages and disadvantages to not living at school. They have limited parking and have a hard time socializing, but they also enjoy living at home and do not have to pay for housing.
The student body of Ramapo College consists of 5,847 students. About 57 percent of students live on campus, while 43 percent live at home. An estimated 95 percent of the student population are from New Jersey, and many students who commute are from local areas.
Students commute because they do not live far from school, do not have to pay for room and board, and do not want to live with other people. The experience of commuting is a trade-off between the inconvenience of travel and being disconnected from campus activities, and savings on dorm space.
“Some days I love being a commuter, and other days I wish I lived on campus,” said junior Leah Turner, 20, of West Milford, N.J. “I like being able to concentrate on my homework, whereas at college there are so many things that would be distractions.”
Economy Affecting Students’ Residential Status
Average room and board fees at Ramapo are $11,370.
About 21 percent of four-year public colleges have been increasing room and board fees in the past year, with the average cost of room and board amounting to $8,887. Students cannot afford the high expense of living on-campus.
The number of commuter students has increased nationally. A recent study has found that 47 percent of students coming from a household that makes more than $100,000 a year are living at home in 2012, a 23 percent increase since 2010.
About 53 percent of students coming from households with an average income of $35,000 to $100,000 are choosing to live at home, as well.
College is an expense in itself, and with the economy negatively affecting people, living at school is an added expense that can be avoided.
“I want to live at school, but it’s so much more affordable for me not to. Still, I sometimes get that sense that I’m missing out because I don’t live on campus,” said sophomore Melissa Apriceno, 19, of Elmwood Park, N.J.
The Disadvantages of Commuting
Even though almost half of the Ramapo student body does not live on campus, some feel as though they are missing out on a college experience.
“I do get jealous of people I see who have formed incredible friendships with their roommates or other people they meet. It definitely creates a sense of separation” Turner said.
“As a commuter, I get into school and then I get out. It really is just a place to learn and not a place to socialize and make new friends,” she added.
Commuters face other challenges, as well. They say that having to deal with traffic can be frustrating, and driving during inclement weather can cause them to be late for class.
“I think the most frustrating thing about being a commuter is definitely parking,” said sophomore Michelle DeSantis, 19, of Mahwah, N.J. “There’s not enough spots in the commuter lot so I always end up parking in the middle of nowhere. It takes me forever to find a parking spot and then I have to walk all the way to class from the parking lot.”
Becoming Involved in the Ramapo Community
Commuter Caucus is also available for commuter students. The organization aims to involve commuters in college life and and make the commuter experience enjoyable.
“For Commuter Caucus, we set up all different kinds of activities, events, and many other things for commuter students,” said sophomore Megan Byrne, 19, Chair of Commuter Caucus. “Basically, we’re the voice of all commuters. We just want to make college more than a place to learn, and this group makes it easier for people to make friends and meet new people.”
The commuter life does have its advantages. Without having to worry about roommates and loud study environments, commuters can have a positive experience.
“Some positives of being a commuter would be having a car, being able to go home every night and sleep in my own bed, not having to share a room or bathroom with someone else, having home-cooked meals every day, and having more job options,” said Apriceno.
“Being a commuter definitely makes it harder to go out to parties and do things with friends because you have to make the drive there and plan ahead of time,” she added. “The college experience is what you make of it, though, so I try to put in as much effort as I can so I don’t get that feeling that I’m missing out.”