A commuter student getting into her car. (Photo courtesy of collegian.csufresno.edu)

by Molly Croce

NEWBURGH – According to the Chicago Tribune, higher education is vital to the nation’s future. As the cost to attend college rises, students turn to commuting to save money while getting their degrees.

Hunter Andrews, a senior from Wallkill, makes the drive to campus every day.

“I save a ton of money each semester by not paying for room and board,” said Andrews. “Education has become expensive and if I can find a way to get a good education while saving money, I’m going to do it.”

Commuter students feel because they aren’t living on a college campus, they are able to find a job while going to school.

According to U.S. News, 23 percent of full-time undergraduate students who are 24 or younger, work 20 hours or more a week.

Shane Melfe, a senior from Wallkill, finds commuting has allowed him to gain real life work experience while also getting a good education.

“Being a commuter allows me to work and go to school at the same time,” said Melfe. “Throughout my time at Mount Saint Mary College I have been able to work and get experience that I need for my future. This will also look good on my resume that I was able to go to school and work at the same time.”

Andrews also feels that being a commuter and working will benefit him.

“Where I work they are very flexible with my schedule and I am very grateful for that,” said Andrews. “I have already been able to market myself in my field and I haven’t even graduated yet. I feel like I have a head start and I love every minute of it.”

Being a commuter also allows one to improve on skill needed for success.

Melfe believes being a commuter student has really helped his time management skills.

“Because I have to travel back and forth to campus, I have really learned to prioritize my time,” said Melfe. “Because there is extra time added to your day going back and forth to campus, you learn to make the best of your time while there. I always make sure I have everything I’ll need for my breaks as well as the time I am going to spend in the library.”

Matt Lennon, a junior from Montgomery, commutes daily and feels he is receiving a great college experience because of it.

“I really enjoy living at home,” said Lennon. “I don’t have to deal with the problems that people have when dealing with their roommates or any of the dorm regulations. I hear people complain about both of those all the time and I’m just happy knowing I can freely do what I want and don’t have to worry about all of that.”

Students also enjoy everything about the comfort of their own home.

“I really enjoy that I wake up in my own bed every morning,” said Andrews. “I don’t have to worry about sharing a bathroom with people that I didn’t know a few months earlier. I always know I’m going to get a good meal, too.”

Melfe also feels living at home is best.

“I know I won’t have to deal with the noise levels or distractions,” said Melfe. “It’s nice to know that I go to my own home and don’t have to deal with the bad parts of college.”

Despite the drive time, Andrews finds his commitment to education is more significant than his negative feelings towards commuting.

“At this point in my life I have made a commitment to school and work,” said Andrews. “I am passionate about both of them. I want to go to class every day, learn and do well in school. This is ultimately what will get me a job in the future so I know it is important to keep an eye on the prize.”