College is often referred to as “the best years of your life” and some parents always tell the tale of how they met while living in the same building while attending school.
However, times have changed and this generation is experiencing a harsher reality when it comes to school loans. The price of attending college nearly doubles when the student tacks on a bill for room and board. With that in mind, more and more people are leaving the dormitories to stay in their childhood bedroom under the roof of mom and dad. They commute to their community colleges – which don’t offer housing at all – or they drive every day to their universities that house their privileged classmates.
When students spend a chunk of their day traveling by car, train, bus or bike, how do they have time to meet a significant other?
“Dating is hard enough for college students,” Jeremy Allen, a sophomore at Stony Brook University said. “Let alone how hard it is for commuter students.”
Allen says that by attending a college and being there only during school hours makes it more difficult to find someone. “We commuter students are not on campus long enough to enjoy the same social events like parties or campus events to meet someone.”
Along with thinking that it is hard for commuters, he says that also trying to find someone who he finds interesting is hard to do in large classrooms. Since he cannot be on campus enough to meet people at events, meeting someone in a class is the next best thing. However, when the class is too big and there is only a short amount of time to talk to someone, it becomes extremely difficult.
“Nothing is worse than sitting in a lecture hall trying to create some kind of actual bond with someone you just met,” he says. “Even if there are 300 people to choose from, it just isn’t fair.”
But other than meeting people through classes, one suggestion other students admit is to join clubs and try to become as involved as possible despite the lack of dorming.
Nicolina Guinta, a student at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC), says that she initially had a hard time meeting people — romantically and just as friends — before joining different organizations.
“I would definitely say it’s harder to find love being a commuter student unless you really make an effort to be involved on campus with activities and clubs,” she said. “It was really hard for me to make friends at Suffolk never mind finding someone to date.”
One major problem students face is the lack of time they have as commuters so often enough, clubs, organizations and social events usually are removed from their thoughts that are filled with homework, jobs, internships and families.
When commuter students have to work Friday nights instead of attending a sorority mixer, they miss out on face-to-face contact.
Maureen Clinton, a Professor of Education, Health and Human Services at SCCC and a licensed marriage and family therapist, says that online dating is a good way to meet fellow students if they are careful.
“Meeting someone online is a tricky connection,” she says. “This person could be a serial killer or the best person you’ll ever meet, but you can’t tell from an online profile.
“People lie and make themselves more than they are, so assume every profile you read isn’t 100 percent factual,” she added.
Clinton also offered other tips like meeting people in open spaces and talking to them on the phone before actually going out. With these helpful tips in mind, students who commute and find it difficult to find a connection on campus could utilize the web in order to find love.
Many commuters who do find love often find relationships outside of school as well. Because they have to work or socialize outside of class, they sometimes create relationships through networking and friends.
KerriAnn Kavanaugh, a student at Farmingdale State College, met her boyfriend while commuting at Farmingdale and although she sees him everyday in class and on campus, she says that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, they must give each other space.
“Even if you are dating someone from within the same school or same town and you just see them a lot, try to set aside time where you both can grow apart in a positive way,” she says.
“Set aside time that you both just go hang out with your friends separately,” she adds. “Time away from each other is healthy for any relationship.”
Brianne Colon, a psychology major at SCCC, agrees with Kavanaugh adding that a little bit of distance helps while commuting.
She and her boyfriend live close by but do not attend the same school. She thinks that this helps her studies and essentially makes them stronger as a couple.
“If I was with my boyfriend all day at school, there would be no quality time because you are around each other so much,” she says.
“When commuting it gives me time away from my boyfriend and I am able to focus on other things,” she adds. “It gives us space, which makes the time we have together much better.”
With the dozens of possibilities students can pursue when it comes to dating as a commuter student, in the end happiness is what matters.
Whether it be an online relationship, meeting people through clubs and events, living separate lives off campus or being in the same school with the same major, happiness is key and in the end it is all personal preference.
“I like being able to do my own thing at school and then enjoy the time away from school with my boyfriend. I prefer the separation,” Colon says.