The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


OPINION: Commuters can still have a meaningful college experience

Sarah Naccarato
Car dashboard displaying student parking pass at the Campbell Memorial Chapel.

As many students normally do, I had many anxieties going into my first semester at Chatham University. Being a first-year commuting student, it felt as though there was an infinite sea of concerns to have. What if my car breaks down? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I don’t ever have the college experience?

I can confidently say the first two semesters as a Chatham commuter have been the best of my life. 

The closer that my high school graduation date approached, the more concerned I became about the transition to college. While planning to commute meant I didn’t have to pack, move or adjust to living in a different environment, college was still a sudden transition. Being able to come back to my house between a 20-30 minute drive at the end of the day kept me grounded despite the inescapable change. I was able to see my family almost every day, pet my dog and sleep in my bed, which was an amazing advantage to commuting. 

While arriving to campus a minimum of an hour early for my first class of the day to ensure a parking spot is not ideal in the slightest, commuting has drastically decreased my tuition fees, acquainted me with driving in the city and allowed for some impromptu — but much needed — mini-road trips. Not only this, but I’m grateful to say I found ways to become involved on campus to avoid feeling an inherent disconnect from campus life. 

I was able to find my people once I became acquainted with my classes and started exploring student organizations. Though the first few weeks didn’t leave me feeling optimistic, it was through student organizations and classes that I met people I now practically consider family. Some of those I now spend the most time with I met through the Communiqué, but any student organization holds potential friends and new family. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that plenty of other students are also trying to make new friends, and there is absolutely no rush to figure out what you want your life on campus to look like. 

As for ensuring the college experience, the hard truth is that college looks differently for everyone. In my experience, it has contained lots of midnight ramen noodles, Just Dance in the Carriage House, movie nights and somehow trying to find out how rain water is leaking through the roof of my car — I am still not sure. There is no one experience in a university with thousands of students. 

Through all the car problems, the tragic death of Chatham University’s valet service and late-night drives home, commuting is an opportunity that I am glad to have, even though it isn’t always smooth sailing. 

The drives home during rush hour traffic were never the most motivating, they are also incredibly soothing to be able to come home at the end of each day. Not only this, but keeping a miniature cooler full of Cheez-Its and Vitamin Waters in the trunk of my car completely helped, especially for emergency situations. 

While I am not suggesting that everyone who lives remotely close to Chatham University should commit to commuting for their entire college career, it is something that those who have the opportunity and desire to should consider trying. Though it isn’t for everyone, commuting is a great way to give yourself time to adjust to college life while still living at home and saving money on housing costs.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Naccarato
Sarah Naccarato, Digital Editor
Sarah Naccarato ‘27 is a communications major with a concentration in journalism. A Pittsburgh suburb native, Sarah accidentally discovered Chatham on a school trip and has since been finding more people with similar and equally weird interests. Sarah enjoys writing a little bit about everything. Outside of the Communiqué, she enjoys nature, reading, driving with music and the windows down, making weird art and watching a little too many movies. For inquiries, Sarah can be best reach via email @[email protected] or on Instagram @sarah.n.17.

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