I spent four years at a small private school that is labeled as a commuter school. Campus was a ghost town every Friday-Sunday and it was very hard to deal with as a freshman.
Living on campus at a commuter school can be very fun if you know how to take advantage of the smaller population during the weekends. There are a lot of students who stay on campus every weekend and feel like they have nothing to do. This gives you the opportunity to make friends with people who want to have fun and enjoy college just as much as you do.
There are a few great ways to make living on campus at a commuter school worth it!
Joining an organization
Joining an organization on campus can allow you to find people who want to enjoy their weekends on campus. There is a long list of different organizations that you can join including: fraternities, sororities, community service organizations, media and publication organizations, multicultural organizations, sports teams (recreational or club), student government association, and religious organizations. Each organization allows for you to find people who have similar interests and usually include students who want to experience more than just college courses during their four years.
Fraternity and sorority benefits have been a very hot topic of debate over the past couple years. We have all seen the news headlines about hazing incidents and all of the negatives that come from them. We also see people going after sororities by saying that it promotes elitism. It is very rare for the news to discuss all of the great things that come from Greek life.
Greek life helps you find like-minded students who will become your life-long friends. Most members of Greek life want to stay on campus every weekend and experience life away from home. You will usually have a house dedicated to your organization that will always have people in it that want to hang out with you. These people with be your family away from family and will be there to support you.
Community Service Organizations
Joining a community service organization is a great way to give back while making amazing friends. These organizations go on local and global trips to help better communities and make people’s quality of life better. The best way to find these groups is to go onto your college’s website and see if they have all of the organizations listed or ask around when you first get on campus. If the group is making a difference on campus or in the community, it will be known by the student body.
The groups that I have seen make a huge impact are Habitat for Humanity and Alpha Phi Omega. Habitat For Humanity is a global initiative aiming to built houses and communities for those who are less fortunate. They offer same-day trips to local communities and week long trips to other countries. This is a great opportunity for those who want to lend a helping hand and also offer great experience to talk about on a job interview.
Alpha Phi Omega is the largest collegiate fraternity in the United States, with chapters at over 350 campuses, an active membership of over 25,000 students, and over 400,000 alumni members. There are multiple fraternities that focus directly on community service and make a huge impact on everyone around them.
Media & Publication
Joining a media and publication organization on campus is great for those who want to get published or help with the creation of your school’s paper, blog, radio, or news station. School’s are always looking to bring in new students and want to have multiple insights on what to report on and how to best run these organizations. This is an awesome opportunity for students that want to go into broadcasting, writing, public relations, and marketing. You will learn a ton of valuable lessons that will help you after graduations and will also help you network with students who will soon be in similar careers as you.
When you go to college, it can be challenging to find people who have similar beliefs and backgrounds as you. Students should look to expand their horizons when it comes to learning from people who grew up in different situations and different lifestyles. Finding an organization that includes people with similar backgrounds can help you find a place where you feel comfortable and are able to connect with students.
There are a ton of multicultural organizations including: African Studies Organization (ASO), Asian Student Association (ASA), Caribbean Student Association (CSA), International Student Association (ISA), and Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc (LSU). Your college website should include all of these organizations and they will have interest meetings that will be open to students who are interested in joining.
Recreation or Club Sports Team
Many high school athletes do not know how to continue playing the sport that they spent years training for after they graduate. Joining a recreation or club sports team is a perfect way to make friends and stay in shape when you’re in college. There are usually try outs for all club teams every year or even every semester. Finding people who play your sport is a very easy way to find friends who may be in the same situation as you and will want to spend time with you on the weekends.
There is also the option of joining a recreational team on campus. These are a lot less strict and do not come with a huge time requirement. There are scheduled game 2-3 times per week that you show up to and play in and then a tournament at the end to crown a winner. There are usually multiple levels of competition so you do not need to worry about competing against people who are more or less talented than you.
Student Government Association
Joining student government is an awesome position to list on a resume and can open doors for you in the future. Having a position that allows you to listen to student’s concerns, control the activities on campus, and have an impact on student life in general allows you to make an impact. By creating activities on the weekends, you could convince students to attend weekend events and potentially get away from the “commuter school” label.
Every student government association is run differently so you should definitely ask around and see if you know anyone who has done it before. People who run for student government want to make an impact on campus and may have the same view as you. This will allow you to have backers when you pitch cool weekend ideas.
Joining a religious organization will help you to continue to practice your faith while you are away from your home. It may be difficult to find an organization that you want to join, but if you do find one you will be around people with similar beliefs as you. These groups can become your support group when you need them and will be a great source of friendship.
Should I transfer out of a commuter school if I do not fit into any of these organizations?
There are other ways of staying busy when living at a commuter school. You can make extra money on the side or see if you have friends at near-by colleges that you can visit when campus is dead.
Does living off campus make commuter schools better?
Living in an off campus house does make living at a commuter school easier. You will have more freedom and will be living with students who will be more likely to stay for the weekend.