I knew going into it that my experience as a commuter student was going to be completely different from the majority of my peers. While it definitely has its perks (no annoying roommates, personal bathroom, comfy bed, and not-disgusting-campus-food, for starters), there are some things that really annoy me about it.

So for those of you who may be thinking about commuting (or for those who already are), let me tell be as real as possible with you. Here are the 17 worst things about being a commuter student:

1. Having no idea where anything is on campus

Confession: I got lost on my first day of school. I mean, really lost. I got to campus early in an effort to be on time, and instead spent an hour bumbling around trying to find the stupid building. Needless to say, I missed the class. Hands-down one of the most embarrassing days of my life.

It doesn’t matter if you have all the maps in the world – you will never know campus like a resident does.

2. Not being able to sleep in

I envy the resident students who can simply roll out of bed and walk to class in five minutes. Not to mention they have the luxury of going back to their dorms for a nap.

Curse you, 8 a.m. class.

3. You’re always starving

This is due to a combination of not having a campus dining card (because at orientation you naively thought there would be plenty of time for you to leave and get food somewhere better) and not having enough time to eat from a lunch box.

Cliff bars, anyone?

4. Struggling to meet new people

I turned to someone in the seat next to me yesterday and introduced myself, only to get the wickedest side-eye in return. I immediately shrank back, totally rejected, and promised myself I’d never do that “talking” thing again. (Don’t do that. Be braver than I am).

Real talk though, meeting people is really difficult. Doubly so when you find yourself walking into an arena with 150 of your peers. With only 5 minutes (give or take) to socialize before the lecture starts, it’s hard to find someone you click with.

5. Having a stronger bond with your car than any of your classmates

I’ve cursed, sang, laughed, and cried in my car. No one knows me like she does.

6. Feeling really left out

“There are people everywhere here,” I thought. “I’ll find a group in no time,” I thought. Wrong.

This is arguably the biggest struggle of being a commuter student. Since we’re not tethered to campus, we get left out of a lot of activities like parties, socials, movie nights, etc. We’re simultaneously robbed of a good time and a chance to make new friends. As a result, we can feel pretty lonely.

7. Coordinating schedules with others is a total pain


In the event that we do make friends, scheduling times to meet up with them poses another challenge.

8. Not being able to put those Pinterest boards to use

Everyone else has got their craft-pants on as they decorate their new dorm rooms while my “Dorm inspo” Pinterest board remains untouched.

9. Snow

If you live where it snows, you know what I mean. It becomes doubly worse if you park in your driveway at home (holla!). Because there’s nothing more fun than braving the cold for an extra 20 minutes in order to defrost and scrape ice off your car. Oh, and the roads are always crap. Thank you, Midwest.

If I die trying to get to school, at least it’ll be in the name of an education.

10. Traffic is the most annoying thing to deal with

I usually have to factor in an extra 15 minutes to navigate local and campus traffic.

Hey, red lights, car accidents, and lunch hour drivers – I’m trying to get to class on time. Work with me here.

11. Campus parking

Finding the perfect spot is a struggle. May the odds be ever in your favor.

The commuter lots are always the ones at the periphery of campus, too. Make sure you factor in more time.

12. Your professors don’t care whether or not you commute

A lot of professors have attendance rules that allow a limited amount of absences before they start docking your grade. Your professor doesn’t care if you had to get gas in the morning, if a car accident blocked off the highway, or if you couldn’t find a parking spot on time. If you don’t make it to class on time, tough cookies.

13. People will rub their “college experiences” in your face

You will always get the pitiful, head turned, wide-eyed look from resident students when you tell them you commute. “Don’t you wish you had the ‘college experience’?” they’ll ask, mournfully. And when you shrug it off like it’s no big deal, they’ll proceed to tell you everything you’re missing out on.

Thanks, guys.

14. Professors who cancel morning classes last minute

This happened to me at least five different times last semester. If I get up at 6 to get to an 8am class, I better get to attend. Please don’t waste my time.

15. There is only ONE way to get to class

If my professor sends me an email saying class has switched to another building, I’m screwed. That’s because I only know the buildings I’m supposed to be in, and nothing else.

16. Campus construction

Shout out to construction for always being in the most inconvenient of places. As if I couldn’t get any more frustrated with my inability to navigate campus.

17. Developing an addiction to caffeine

Because how else are we going to survive the 8am classes, lack of napping space, and the long distance commutes?

 There is an upside, though:

Bonding with those who share your struggles.

We’re in this together, guys.

  • Asma Elgamal

    Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.