By: Bora Cecia (Loyola Sophomore) and Shirley Truong (Loyola Senior)
Dawn breaks over the bustling city of Chicago as weary college students trickle onto crowded buses or enter their car to begin their long commute, navigating through the cacophony of morning traffic. Their silent determination to balance education along with the taxing demands of daily travel remains unsung throughout the halls of Loyola University Chicago.
At Loyola, first and second year students are required to live in the university dorms. However, with the increasing school tuition and the added cost of on-campus living many students have filed for exemption, leading them to commuter life.
Statistics show that 58% of students at Loyola commute. Studies have shown that students often consider their travel to be a barrier between their campus participation and academic success, leading to schools like Loyola taking initiative to provide extra guidance to this group of students.
Acknowledging the struggles that these students face, Loyola has created programs and accommodated them with a commuter student lounge to aid with the transition to commuter life and build community. To engage this group of students with on-campus life, Center For Student Engagement (CSE) provides resources and hosts events designed for commuter students at Loyola.
However, despite these resources, commuter students still face several individual challenges. To learn more about these issues, some commuter students were interviewed and asked the question, “What is the biggest challenge for you as a commuter student at Loyola Chicago?”
20-year-old Senior and Commuter Student Ambassador, Tara Joseph said, “Well, in the beginning since my freshman year I was online because of COVID making friends was very, very hard for me. Also, I think dorming kids, they have that ability to be able to meet whenever they want and hang out and have that community, but it was very hard for me to find that here.”
Similarly, other commuter students feel the same struggle of adapting to the on-campus community.
19-year-old commuter student Violet Luna said, “Honestly, it’s just not having enough time on campus. I feel like a majority of my time is taken up by classes and I have to schedule them all back to back. Because of that, I usually feel tired, so I rely on caffeine a lot. And then a majority of student organizations are held all the way at the end of the day, closer to like seven or nine, and that’s exhausting, so I can’t go to those events.”
However, missing out on campus activities was not the only challenge that students spoke out on. Others highlighted the ongoing problems regarding their schedule planning and how it affects their college experience.
“The biggest challenge I have is scheduling because I always have to make sure I have enough time to get from my house to school for my classes.” Said 19-year-old Sophomore, Katerina Krivokapic. “ So usually, I leave my house a lot earlier than I need to. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I don’t have class till around 10 a.m., but I still get here early and just study instead because I don’t want to run into the issue where I leave my house a little late and then there’s a car accident or something.”
On another note, students talked about their daily routine and the time that they spend commuting to class.
19-year-old student Esteban Garcia said, “The biggest challenge for me as a commuter would probably be just the commute in general, getting up every morning and driving here. I get up at 6 a.m., and then leave my house as soon as possible. Then, it usually takes me 45 minutes to get here and then leaving when I just finished classes, there’s a rush hour so it takes me another hour just to get home.”
Likewise, other interviewee’s described the struggle of the commute itself, amongst trying to navigate the busy Chicago public transport system and dealing with planning out their daily life around the commute.
19-year-old Freshman, Vanessa Casimiro said, “I feel that the biggest challenge is obviously getting here and having to leave my house sometimes very early. I have a car but the days I don’t bring my car, it takes me two hours just to get to school because I’m taking the train and that takes forever. Or even at night when I’m going back. There are days where I have classes in the middle of the day, and it just takes up my whole day just coming into school and going back.”
Although commuting comes with its set of challenges, many students have come to learn about the resources that Loyola provides. One of the most notable ones is the Commuter Resource Room, which is a type of lounge for commuter students to aid with their extended stays on campus when faced with awkward amounts of time in between classes.
“But then once we started commuting back on campus, I found this room [commuter resource room], which is a wonderful resource that we can just rest in because we don’t have apartments to go back to,” said Commuter Student Ambassador, Joseph, when sharing her experience.
Curating the perfect daily routine is essential to the success of commuters as they need to account for their travel time and plan their schedules ahead. Daily life as a commuter comes with its set of challenges but it’s nothing that our Ramblers can’t handle.