Commuter student life: A daily traffic jam with advantages

A day in the life of a typical commuter student usually begins with an alarm clock going off at least an hour and a half before the beginning of class. This is followed by the typical routine of getting ready in the morning; then the real mission begins: dealing with traffic.

Some may question why anyone would want to make a commute to UM if the residential colleges offer everything any student could ever want. Answers to this question vary. Some people simply like the exercise. Students travel to school by car, bus, MetroRail, bike, skateboard, or a comfy pair of Nikes. Others believe that no one truly enters the real world until they start living on their own. This is the core reason many students give for choosing to live off campus, as it gives them the freedom to make their own decisions, allowing them to make their mistakes on the way and to learn from them. Living off campus often requires leases and monthly rent payments, and many see this as a natural transition into adult life.

For commuter students, the University Center, located upstairs in UC 236, is the place to congregate. Equipped with tables, chairs, couches, and television sets, the UC provides commuters with a comfortable, homey atmosphere to socialize between or after classes.

Among the services provided for commuter students is the Great Start program, an overnight, pre-orientation program designed to help incoming commuter freshmen become better prepared for college life. Incoming commuter students spend two days and a night on campus in the residence halls learning about UM.

One of the special perks offered to commuter students are Commuter Luncheons, where students have the opportunity to meet representatives from various University departments and share thoughts and discuss issues that affect commuter students. President Shalala and Vice President of Student Affairs Pat Whitely have both been among the luncheon representatives.

Also, Commuter Connections, which can be found on the Commuter Affairs website, features upcoming events that commuter students may be interested in. The site’s purpose is to help commuter students become more involved in on-campus activities.

Most of the students who live off campus are upperclassmen or graduate students; all incoming freshman are required to live on campus unless they live with a family member. All commuter students have access to all of the services on campus including the library, computer labs, and study lounges. I

>> For more information on Commuter Student Affairs, contact the office at 305-284-5646 or visit