A majority of students at West Chester University live on campus, at the affiliated apartments or in off-campus housing. Many students and teachers spend a lot of time commuting to and from campus from different locations.
That being said, there are various obstacles that a commuter can run into while trying to maintain their studies. Time management for commuters is integral to their ability to get to classes on time and get assignments done.
In an interview, Sandy Jones, Director of Off-Campus and Commuter Services, was able to shed some more light on what the university has to offer for commuter and off-campus students. She stated that first-year students do not have the opportunity to block their own schedules and have to rely on whatever schedule they are given.
However, after that first semester, she suggests to schedule your classes so that the commute time is cut down. She also suggests getting a job on or near campus so that it is closer to the school and if the student has classes everyday, it is easier to simply go to work and then to class.
There are 14 parking lots available to students around the north and south campuses. The south campus lots provide wonderful parking, but a shuttle bus is then required to get to north campus. Shuttle busses that are filled to capacity will pass by students waiting to be picked up, so one must be careful to get there early enough in case this happens.
Parking is only about $30 for an academic year and the summer sessions do not require a permit. Parking is always guaranteed but not always in the spot that you wish to have.
As for those who can only take public transportation, those students must get a feel for what is needed in terms of getting to classes on time. The 104 and 92 busses come right onto campus, and at the moment, the shuttle bus from Exton Train Station comes at no cost to students.
There are many disadvantages for commuters by car or bus, but there are many perks as well. An advantage to driving one’s own car is that a student can make their own schedule, but they will always have problems when it comes to parking, paying for the parking pass and running into traffic.
One major advantage for public transportation is that you can sleep, study and listen to music without worrying about concentrating on the road. However, one major disadvantage is that the commute is much longer than it would be if you were driving from a house to campus. That is, unless, you live in an apartment or house along the route of the bus taking your home.
In the event of inclement weather, the university tries their best to get the school closings posted as soon as possible. The problem is that most commuters travel longer distances, so they must leave before the time that it is posted on the website.
Jones suggests keeping a good dialogue with professors so that in the event of a storm, a commuter could easily let them know if they will be able to make it to class or not. This is important because if the professor does not know who you are or has not spoken to you as much, it is unlikely they will come out with a good response.
“Just plan it out. I realize that it’s hard that you’re not just walking out of your res hall and five minutes to class, but pre-think it—where you are going to have to park or where you get off the bus,” Jones explained during the end of the interview. “Where’s your class? Are you getting breakfast first, or lunch? And how are you going to get to class?”
Jones’ grad student, Maureen, was also present for the interview and suggested joining the Off-Campus and Commuter Association (OCCA), or to at least go to one or two of the bonding events they have. These events can help commuters get to know each other and possibly find other students who take the same route so that a commute, cost for parking, gas and maintenance can be lessened for the students.
Sykes is also known as a commuter’s “home away from home.” The ground floor is maintained by the OCCA. They offer free coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks on a regular basis for all students, along with a refrigerator and microwave for students’ use.
The ground floor is also where they have lockers available that can be rented for a low price of $15 for a semester or $20 for the entire academic year. The SSI Service Center is where students can rent the lockers, along with cash personal checks, payroll checks and money orders as well as buy postage stamps, SEPTA tokens, notary, get passport photos and Regal movie tickets.
There are various lounges on every floor for students to relax, study and visit or meet with friends. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study or relax, the Common Grounds on the first floor, the lounge on the second floor and the Fredrick Douglas Study Lounge on the third floor (located beside the Computer Lab) are the perfect places to get away from the student chatter and work on reading or writing papers in peace.
I have been a commuter since I came here for the fall 2016 semester. One tip that I can give to new and old commuter students is to get a hold of the SEPTA key pass. The key works like an Easy Pass does for the turnpike—you get a card and put a certain amount of money on it to start and then refill it as you go. It is a lot easier than worrying about losing a token or getting a pass that will not be used the entire week.
I hope these tips have been able to help anyone who commutes to and from campus.
Clare Turner is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in Spanish and journalism.