Forty-nine percent of Goshen College students are commuters. For local students, living off-campus can help relieve the financial burden of being a college student. Being a commuter, however, comes with unique challenges.In order to help students manage those challenges, Courtney Ropp, coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion, created a commuter student support group which will have its first meeting this Friday.
The support group isn’t the first system set up to support commuter students. The Commuter Student Association (CSA) is an established group that is advised by Luna Maria Campos, administrative assistant for student life. The CSA regularly schedules events for commuters, including a Valentine’s Day gathering, a Thanksgiving event, get-togethers and even Zumba workouts.
The commuter student lounge, located above the computer lab in the Union building, serves as a home base for many students. The lounge includes a refrigerator, a microwave and tables for students to study and hang out. Recently, a “snack shack” has been implemented to give students access to food.
These resources have helped commuter students manage responsibilities and feel more connected to the GC community. Many students, however, deal with difficulties that are much more nuanced.
The new support group is meant to provide a place for students to share about and bond over their challenges.
Students commute from all over Northern Indiana, including Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Warsaw and South Bend. Commutes can take up to an hour or more for some students.
That’s the case for Isis Espinoza, a sophomore secondary education major whose commute from Elkhart takes 30 minutes. “Sometimes it gets really tiring sitting down while driving for so long and then having to go to class still sitting down,” Espinoza said.
For Lizeth Ochoa, a senior TESOL major from Elkhart, the inconsistency of commute times can make it difficult to make it to class on time. “If I’m not in class, trust me, I would want to be there,” Ochoa said.
Cadence Lee, a secondary education and music major, is also from Elkhart, and her commute can take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. She said balancing work, school and home life is challenging. “I’ve done jobs at 3:00 AM before classes and jobs that last till midnight after classes,” Lee said.
Having such a busy schedule combined with a long commute makes it difficult to feel genuinely connected at Goshen College.
“Since my first year, I’ve stuck to the same friends I’ve had since high school,” Espinoza said. “I’ve never really been able to make more friendships with people who live on campus. It’s hard because people already know each other; if you live in dorms, you just hang out with people you dorm with.”
Silas Immanuel, a first-year who lives off-campus appreciates how the college is taking care of its commuter students.
“It feels like, especially this semester, the college is taking extra steps to really be intentional about helping commuters,” Immanuel said.
The commuter student support group meets every Friday at 10 a.m. in Wyse 108B. For questions, email Courtney Ropp at email@example.com.