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 an hour and a half before class. Then the real mission begins: dealing with traffic.

Some may question why one would want to make a commute to UM if the residential colleges offer everything any student could want. Answers to this question vary. Some people simply like the exercise. Students travel to school by car, bus, MetroRail or bike. Others believe that no one 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.

For commuter students, the University Center (UC) 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. The UC is home to the offices that offer services to commuter students, such as Commuter Student Affairs (CSA), room 236, and the Association of Commuter Students (ACS), room 207.

Among the services provided by CSA 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.

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

The Association of Commuter Students (ACS) has made its mission to help commuters sense that the University community is more of a home away from home. For a nominal membership fee, members have access to amenities such as a refrigerator, microwave and television as well as the ability to meet a variety of commuter students who have to deal with comparable traffic situations.

For more information on CSA, call 305-284-5646 or visit

For more information on ACS, email, or visit