Commuter Students: What You Need to Know About Commuter Colleges

Find housing at community colleges and other commuter campuses

College students talking and descending stairway
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There are many choices for college and among them are what is often called a 'commuter campus.' Unlike schools that have housing on campus, students at commuter campuses tend to live off campus and commute to class.

What Is a Commuter Campus?

Commuter campuses include many of the technical schools and community colleges. These schools tend to focus on the training and teaching rather than a traditional college campus life that includes football games, dorms, and Greek houses.

Students that attend commuter campuses live off campus. Some choose to live at home with their parents while others find an apartment.

These schools are also filled with non-traditional students as well. Many older adults may return to college later in life and already have their own families, jobs, and homes.

In general, a commuter campus offers little or no on-campus housing. However, some may have an apartment complex nearby that caters to students of that school. This situation can offer a community experience similar to dorms for young college students moving to a new city.

Life on a Commuter Campus

Commuter campuses have a significantly different feel than residential campuses.

Many students on a commuter campus choose to leave right after class. The study groups, extra-curricular activities and other programs associated with typical college life are generally not available.

On weekends, the population of a commuter campus can go from 10,000 to a few hundred. Evenings tend to be quieter too.

Many community colleges are trying to combat this feeling, which can often seem sterile and leave students feeling unconnected with others outside of the classroom. They are offering fun activities, intramural sports, and more programs to engage their college community and transform that 'business-only' atmosphere.

Find Housing for Commuter College Students

If your child is going to attend a commuter college in another city or state, then you will need to look for off-campus housing.

Here are a few tips for finding that first apartment:

Begin at the Admissions Office

When enrolling at the school, ask them about housing resources. These schools are used to the question and will often have a list of resources available.

Some commuter schools have a few dorm opportunities available though they will go fast. Be sure to get on their list right away if you are interested in these.

The admissions office can also give you advice about neighborhoods to avoid or those with good options for public transportation to campus.

Many of these schools will have a large apartment complex or a number of small ones nearby that work almost exclusively with the college's students. They are often priced reasonably for a student budget and can feel like a small community of students.

Also, look for roommate opportunities, either through the school or apartment complex. Many students are will to split the cost of housing, but be careful to choose a good roommate!

Classified Ads

Use the local classified ads listings to find affordable apartments in the area. Be sure to look early enough because many of the best deals rent quickly. 

For the fall semester, begin looking in May and June when last year's students are leaving. The market will be very competitive throughout the summer, particularly if the school is big or there are other colleges in the same town.

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Your Citation
Burrell, Jackie. "Commuter Students: What You Need to Know About Commuter Colleges." ThoughtCo, Aug. 31, 2021, Burrell, Jackie. (2021, August 31). Commuter Students: What You Need to Know About Commuter Colleges. Retrieved from Burrell, Jackie. "Commuter Students: What You Need to Know About Commuter Colleges." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).