Commuter students sacrifice social time for a college degree

IU Southeast commuters spend many hours a week driving, while also trying to use their time wisely


Abigail Knecht during a busy day of commuting to IUS. Photo submitted by Knecht

Rachel Harris, Staff Reporter

Picture it: You head to your car with a steaming cup of coffee in hand, turn the radio on, and let your favorite music wash over you. A relaxing start to your day.

For Indiana University Southeast’s commuter students, this is often not the reality. Driving to classes, work, social events or home, every part of their hectic schedules must be carefully planned. 

Many college students pay to live on campus, enjoying time between classes to go back to their dorm room for a nap or time with friends. This luxury, however, is not given to commuter students, who instead pay with their time, energy and fuel. 

According to The City University of New York, 87% of all college students commute to a college campus. 

At IUS, students commute to campus for a variety of reasons. Some may work, care for a family or cannot afford on-campus housing. 

Whatever the reason may be, scheduling drive time is a big part of a commuter student’s life. 

Abigail Knecht, a junior studying secondary education, is one student who spends a lot of time driving to and from IUS. 

“I try to schedule my classes close together so that I can go to class without having a big break in between,” Knecht said. 

Driving roughly 25 minutes from Henryville, Ind., she is unable to go to school and work on the same day. Doing homework during the weekdays, she works and spends time with her boyfriend on weekends. 

Knecht said living far from campus also makes coordinating group studies much more difficult.

“I do not want to make a trip all of the way there just to meet for an hour or so,” she said. 

Making friends also requires effort and time to meet up, which can mean unscheduled drive time during the week. 

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice things, but in the end, it is worth it,” Knecht said.

Although over seven hours of driving a week may seem annoying in retrospect, Knecht said she is used to these drives. 

She is not the only one who is used to commuting to IUS weekly. 

Tristan Doane, junior at IUS studying education, also understands what it means to sacrifice time for his degree. 

Doane said he finds many ways to use drive time to his advantage, one of which is listening to podcasts. 

“I love listening to podcasts while I drive,” Doane said.“It helps me stay focused.”

Doane drives from Pekin, Ind., where he travels to a different place every day of the week. 

Some days he attends classes and accomplishes homework. Other days he works in the aftercare program at Christian Academy of Indiana in New Albany. 

As an education major, Doane is also trying to accomplish his clinicals. This means even more hours in the car separate from driving to campus. 

Doane has found that allowing someone else to take the wheel helps save him a lot of energy. 

“When it comes from one place to another,” Doane said, “It’s always best to carpool.”