Imagine your alarm going off at 5 a.m.—you wake up groggy, and slowly crawl out of bed to shower. You get dressed, eat breakfast and head out the door. The rush of cold air hits your skin as you get into your car and make your 30 minute drive to campus. Now, imagine doing that every day while also working a part-time job and balancing other extracurricular activities.

Commuting is an alternative to on-campus living, as it can get expensive staying in dorms your whole college career. Commuters are very common at UWA, each of whom has a multitude of reasons for choosing to commute over living on campus. When hearing that someone commutes, whether it be three minutes or an hour away from campus, a sense of intrigue or judgement often develops about why students choose to go that route.

Students such as Hadyn O’Cain, a senior majoring in pre-medicine, has seen some of the positive aspects of being a commuter.

“It was a better living expense for me,” she says. “I guess as you get older, you kind of want to do your own thing. Living off campus is that.”

There is a sense of responsibility when it comes to commuting. For example, you should know when classes start to arrive at the appropriate time. You should also have a plan when the weather turns for the worse, especially if you’re driving a long distance.

“It’s like living a double life,” a former student of UWA recalls of his trial and error of commuting. “I worked in Tuscaloosa the first two years of my college career. Because I worked late hours I was often late for class the next day. The majority of that time, it was because of traffic. Family was a big reason why I decided to commute closer to school. Since they live close by, I’m able to live there with them and get to class in a timely fashion.”

Getting the full college experience involves taking advantage of the many campus activities and organizations that UWA has to offer. With everything being accessible on campus, commuters make the most of the situation given to them when it comes to extracurricular activities.

“It really doesn’t widely affect me at all since I have a car,” said O’Cain, who is member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, Alpha Psi Omega and active president of Phi Boota roota. “It’s almost like a positive thing.”

There are many pros and cons to commuting, but it’s up to each student to figure out what is comfortable to him or her. Although you might feel comfortable in your own home and have your own privacy, you may lose the notion of being spontaneous. It’s a lot harder to hang out with friends when you live so far from the dorms. It’s important to make new friends and get involved with activities whether you are a commuter or an on-campus student.

The next time you see cars with white decals, remember that they are just as much students and are just as capable of being active around campus even if they live far from it.

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