Many students choose to go away to college once they graduate high school, while others decide to stay at home and commute. I happen to be one of those commuter students (hence the name “Commuter Crystal”), and I have found many perks to this decision.
Going away for college usually means higher expenses, and I’m not talking about minor living expenses like food and gas. I’m talking about tuition and housing. Take the University of Pittsburgh, for example. If you’re going to the main campus and are an in-state resident, you’re paying anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 extra to attend compared to a branch campus, and that all depends on your major. For housing, it can be anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to be housed on the main campus compared to housing on a branch campus closer to your home. Should you be an out-of-state resident, you could be faced with an additional $20,000 a year. Commuting from home can allow you to pay a minimal amount of rent to your parents or do chores in lieu of rent. Staying close to home isn’t looking so bad, is it?
After tuition and housing, you have to think about other costs associated with college. Meal plans are expensive, and buying your own food to live in an apartment off campus can rack up a hefty total too! If you live at home, you can buy food and make it yourself, but chances are your folks or a sibling will cook for you. You won’t have to stick to Ramen noodles every night, or cook things in bulk and freeze it for later. As for gas, everyone knows how the economy is today. Living away from home means driving back home for holidays among other things. While this could be great for your highway gas mileage, it racks up a big bill. If you stay at home, you may only have to drive to campus and back to your home.
While there are many benefits to living at home, there are also numerous drawbacks. For starters, you’re living with your parents or other family members. You’re not part of the dorm life, or out on your own and truly independent like you might want to be. Also, you have to travel in bad weather to and from campus. I live in a place where it seems like there’s no fall or spring, just summer and winter. Traveling to campus in the winter is a treacherous drive, and extremely dangerous. In addition, you have to worry about parking on campus. At my university, resident students are allowed to park in commuter lots. If you don’t leave early enough, you can’t find a spot near the buildings. While it saves money, living at home presents other hassles.
Living at home isn’t for everyone, but it is an option that is often overlooked. While you may have to make a few aggravating drives and sacrifice some privacy, you will save tons of money tuition-wise, housing-wise, and living expense-wise. My point isn’t to convince you that being a commuter student is the best option, because quite frankly it may not be for your circumstance. I would just encourage students to weigh all the options before making the decision to move away for school.
What are your thoughts? Are there any major perks or drawbacks that I missed?