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Photo Credit: Patrick Alejandro

The challenges of staying connected as a commuter

Every week, Off-Campus Student Services provides a complimentary breakfast for commuter students. The goal: keep them around.

OCSS offers services, programs, and support to students living off campus. Their offices are located in the Main Street lounge of The Commons, also known as the commuter lounge. The OCSS desk is always stocked with a plethora of pamphlets related to transportation, housing and activities both on and off campus. Student staff members are also eager to give assistance and information.

However, many students do not take advantage of all that OCSS has to offer. Cara McNeaney, a junior interdisciplinary studies major used to live on campus, but became a commuter student this year to save money. Though she knows of OCSS, and had seen them setting up their weekly Good Morning Commuters breakfast, she did not know much about the services they provide.

“It would be cool to have a little commuter guide or something like a pamphlet telling you [about] different services or carpooling,” McNeaney said.

OCSS may not have one comprehensive pamphlet, but their website details all the organization has to offer including events, commuter resources, and help with off-campus housing.

Though McNeaney is finding it difficult to meet new people while commuting, she is also finding positive aspects of living at home.

“I did like living on campus, but the social life … gets kind of distracting,” she said, “so now I have time to study. I really like that.”

In order to help students make friends, the OCSS offers events throughout the year to help students get to know each other. A regular event is the Commuter Cafe where they give free lunch. Workshops are regularly held to improve academic habits and leadership skills. There is also an annual retreat for first year commuters that includes team building activities.

Joy Kisch, a junior biology major and English minor who, like McNeany, moved off campus this year. Kisch also feels that it is difficult to meet new people while living off campus.

“As soon as I finish class I’m headed to the library or I’m headed home. I know living on campus you have more people around you all the time, but living off campus you’re just on your own.”

In order to meet more people and stay connected with the campus, Kisch attends the weekly breakfast offered by the OCSS. She feels it is for a good price and helpful to her.

“You can meet other commuters, and the food is good, too,” Kisch said. “You just sit with anyone and start a conversation.”