This year, the number of commuters and the number of residents is almost equal. According to the 2013 fact book, there are 1,105 residents on campus and 1,103 commuters.
So why have the numbers of off campus students increased so substantially?
Rae Showen, director of student activities, believes the financial aspect of college has a great deal to do with the increase of commuters this year.
“I think people want to save money,” Showen said. “I just think the economy has been in the tank and we have a lot of students who work in addition to going to class, and I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Michael Irwin, sophomore intervention specialist education major, said his reasons for commuting are purely financial.
“My scholarship covers my tuition,” Irwin said. “I still take out a little bit of loans for my food plan and my books, so I would have to take more out for room and board. I would rather just save money.”
Although commuting accommodates Irwin financially, he does find a few negative sides to the decision.
“It’s hard on your car, you’re not as connected with the school, and you don’t know as many people,” Irwin said. “It’s annoying when I study all night in the library, knowing that I have to drive back. Or if you have a test you have to go to bed earlier because you have to wake up earlier to commute. It adds more to your day.”
Financial reasons are a common consensus among many commuters, but there are other underlying reasons as to why commuting is becoming a dominant choice for students.
Kayla Akin, senior nursing major, said her decision to commute is not based on financial reasons, although that is a benefit to her.
“I help take care of my family at home,” Akin said. “I help take care of my little brother and my cousin, and I live pretty close.”
Akin agrees some benefits to commuting are saving money and valuable time with her family.
“I’m definitely a family person, so I like to be with my family a lot,” Akin said. “I also have a job so it helps me be more responsible.”
But for every positive comes a negative. Akin said there are a few drawbacks to commuting.
“You don’t feel as involved,” Akin said. “I don’t know a lot about what is going on at campus until I hear it from other people after it has already happened. It’s harder to make friends; that’s why I joined the cheerleading team so that I could be more involved at school.”
Whether a student lives off campus or on campus, Showen said it is up to him or her to get involved.
“At the end of the day, it comes to a personal choice whether or not a commuter student chooses to get plugged in and involved,” Showen said. “We have many who do. There are many commuter students who have found their niche, and have been able to really enjoy a rich college experience.”
Riley Gable is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.