Talley tower at NC State

A Commuter’s Guide to Campus

For whatever reason, you’ve decided to live off campus this year. You’re sharing an apartment with a couple of friends, or you’re moving back in with your parents and commuting from home.

This isn’t an easy decision. Living on campus is the most convenient choice — you could roll out of bed and five minutes later make it to your 8 AM class. But financially, commuting is a smart decision.

Here’s What You Need to Know

female college student studyingCommuting comes with its own set of challenges. Of course, there’s the one I mentioned before — it takes longer to get to class.

Another problem is getting involved on campus. If you’re not living with a good group of friends, it can be tough forging new friendships. Club meetings are later in the evening, about time when you may decide you’re tired and want to head home.

Here are the positives and negatives about living off campus and commuting to school.

The Perks

Your world expands just slightly by living off campus: new ways of getting to class, new friends, new living girl with thumbs uparrangements, and new roads to memorize so you don’t get lost.

Your food options get a lot more diverse, too. You can eat fast food every day of the week if you want (I personally wouldn’t recommend it), you can go grocery shopping and cook, or you can do a bit of both. Living on campus, your options were primarily dining hall food and student center food. Yes, you could go grocery shopping, but the stoves were communal and you had a meal plan, so why not eat at Fountain every day?

Of course, housing tends to be cheaper. On campus, a dorm generally costs $5,910 for a full academic year and “on-campus” apartments like Wolf Village cost $6,906 per academic year, with rent being about $730 per month. Yikes.

The Pitfalls

If you’re at an off-campus apartment or living at home, chances are you can’t just walk to class. (If you can, that’s awesome and you can ignore this one.) You’ll have to find a new way to school, whether it’s driving or taking the WolfLine. With parking on campus, it’s tough to find a spot even if you have a parking pass. And the buses can be unreliable at times.

Another downside to commuting, like I said, is staying involved on campus. Clubs meet late, and your on-campus buddies can have impromptu Creamery runs that you sometimes won’t feel like driving to campus for.

And then there’s class scheduling. If you live far enough away, it probably won’t be worth your while to go back home in between classes. You’ll end up staying on campus for long periods of time, perhaps chilling in the library for hours at a time or crashing at your friend’s dorm. (Though this might be a benefit to some, since staying on campus could help them be more productive.)

Need More Commuting Resources?

NC State’s website doesn’t (yet) have a comprehensive guide for its commuter students, but here’s a couple links that I think will help you if you’re thinking about commuting or have already signed your lease for next year:

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