According to the Registrar’s Office, commuter students and residential students are not distinguished from each other when they register for class as “the 7 a.m. release time for registration was chosen because it gives all students the same advantage [when] registering.”
The Registrar’s Office continues “that all students have the same advantage, which is students register online beginning at 7 a.m. on their registration date assigned based on earned and in-progress credits. There are no classes at the 7 a.m. time slot so those eligible to register can do so.”
Although there are no classes at 7 a.m., this registration time does not account for commuters who have to commute an hour to school or who have to be on a bus route hours before their class to ensure they make it on time. Commuters should be granted priority registration because of their extra burdens compared to residential students.
A commuter’s 24 hours a day largely differs from a student who lives on campus. A student who lives in a dorm hall needs only to walk anywhere from two to 15 minutes to class, whereas some commuters must drive upwards of an hour to get to school. Commuters lose valuable time on their commutes to school and often have to stay on campus long hours in order to accommodate their classes. To be clear, commuter students entail all students who do not live on campus, except for seniors who choose to live on the beach.
As I am not a commuter myself, I had a conversation with commuter student Phuc Nguyen ‘25 about being a commuter. He detailed a few reasons as to why priority registration would be beneficial for commuters.
Namely, commuters have to plan their transportation around their classes. Residential students have the privilege of knowing how long it will take them to get to class every day, while commuters must worry about traffic and late buses. Bus routes, train rides and more would be a lot more accessible and easier for commuters if they were able to register early and pick the classes that best worked around their transportation schedule.
Next, many classes are spread throughout the day, and for commuter students, that means staying on campus for extended periods of time. Through priority registration, commuter students would have better access to classes that allowed them the freedom to come to campus for a block of time once a day to complete their classes, but then not be stuck on campus for the whole day.
Basically, by picking schedules that better fit their needs, commuters will be better able to plan their schedule to lessen the amount of time they take going to and from campus by picking classes that are back to back in order to adhere to a work or transportation schedule.
Likewise, Nguyen describes how commuters need to place a lot of focus on their financial situations. To be able to register beforehand, commuter students will be able to create a class schedule that allows them to lessen the amount of time spent going to and from campus, which will save gas money, and then their time can be used more productively: at a job, familial responsibilities, etc.
Additionally, Nguyen also details how commuters do not have meal plans, but still need sustenance to make it through one’s day. Having to pack two to three meals a day, depending on how long they are required to be on campus, can be exhausting, and spending money on food options becomes expensive. Therefore, by minimizing the amount of time commuter students need to be on campus, finding food throughout the day will not be as difficult an issue.
Further, by picking schedules that better fit their needs, commuters will be better able to plan their schedule to lessen the amount of time they take going to and from campus by picking classes that are back to back in order to adhere to a work or transportation schedule.
It should be noted the mental and physical strain commuting takes. Needing to wake up an hour earlier to get to class is exhausting and a tense hour drive to school is mentally draining. Getting stuck in an 8 a.m. class, unless absolutely necessary, is not sustainable. Sophomore Jennifer Fajardo – a commuter in her first year, now a Resident Assistant – emphasizes how impossible it can be to make it on time to an 8 a.m. class half asleep amidst rush hour traffic.
Junior commuter student Alexa Boyle commented on her commute, the lack of spaces for commuters on campus and how some of those issues can be solved by community registration.
“The commutes and gaps are mentally draining, we have nowhere to go. The commuter lounge is depressing, there is nothing to do and nowhere to sleep, therefore, with priority registration where [we] can put our classes closer together to limit gaps we can solve some of these problems,” she stated. “Also going to campus every day costs a lot in gas.”
To expand on what Boyle said, commuters do not have the same sense of comfort when on campus which, for some, is mentally draining as well. Where residential students can take a much-needed break in their room after a class, commuter students are rarely ever alone on campus and do not have the luxury of being able to unwind and take a second to breathe. Although commuter students have access to the commuter lounge, this does not compare to having one’s own space on campus.
Lastly, commuters have at-home responsibilities that residential students do not have. Whereas residential students for the most part have the luxury of being able to separate home and school life, those are one in the same for commuter students. By allowing commuters the ability to register early and make a schedule that allows them to adequately plan for responsibilities at home, their time on campus will be easier and potentially less stressful.
Now, I am not saying that first-year commuter students should get to register before seniors; however, commuters should have priority registration according to in-progress and earned credits, as is the normal registration procedure.
The ability for commuters to choose classes that make their commute to campus easier, and their overall experience while on campus better, should be provided by granting commuters priority registration.