Q: How did you decide to live at home during college? Which factors helped make your decision?
A: If it was completely my choice, I would have loved to live on campus. I went to a college that was only a 25-minute drive from my house. My family said it would be easier to commute and save money. Being a private school, tuition was $50,000 a year and it would have been an extra $10,000 on top of that if I lived on campus. However, I was worried I was going to miss the whole freshmen experience, which you can’t put a price on. We actually called my school the second week in and tried to get a space in the dorms, but they didn’t have any room left. I ended up commuting all four years of college.
Q: What advice do you have for students considering this path?
A: Know that it is a challenge, but it is possible. Sometimes, I would drive back and forth three times a day when there were events, parties or other things that everyone is going to and I didn’t want to miss out. You need to be organized with your time and plan out your day so you can have all your materials and clothes with you so you don’t have to go back and forth. A huge plus is the amount of money I have saved as a 24-year-old. While most of friend from college don’t have credit cards or are in debt with student loans, I paid off all of my student loans within 3 years of graduating and have thousands of dollars saved from not getting an apartment in college. This has been amazing and has allowed me to live the best life I can after I graduated.
Q: Is there anything you would have changed about your experience looking back?
A: Besides actually living on campus, no. I definitely made the most of my time while I was on campus. I was in a sorority, had two on-campus jobs, held positions in my sorority and two major clubs, and had jobs and internships in LA or OC every semester. My flexibility and commuting allowed for all of that to happen. It’s definitely possible!
Q: What is your best advice for students who worry they won’t feel connected to campus?
A: My advice would be to get as involved as fast as you can. I joined several clubs my first semester and actually held positions in a few of those. I was one of the founding members of the Chapman University Off-Campus Council, which was full of commuters like myself who hosted events for those who lived at home. Join a sorority, join clubs, get an on-campus job and stay on campus all day (there really isn’t a rush to get home). I used to stay all day at our Student Union, get meals with friends and do my homework. It felt more like the college experience that way. I was lucky enough to make friends right away that actually let me stay in their dorms on late nights etc.
Q: How can learners successfully make the transition from their parents viewing them as high school students to college students? What advice do you have for managing that relationship?
A: The lifestyle is very different in high school than college. You will probably be home or available a lot less and hopefully they will realize that soon enough. Get a job! That’s the first step for your parents to see you’re getting older. I actually got an on-campus job my freshman year and worked there all four years. Mention to your parents that you will be less available and that if you are commuting, you need to make an effort to be on campus more and be more involved.