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Not Being a Commuter at a Commuter School: How I Made Friends

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Samantha Hayek

PHHS '18, Montclair State University '22

When people primarily hear of Montclair State University they think of a big commuter school, which it is. It was scary at first to know that I would be dorming at a school that had more than half of their students drive home. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make friends, that I would be homesick, and that campus would just be a dead zone on the weekends when there was no class. Freshman year I felt all of these and was more than ready to transfer to another school before I decided I wanted to make Montclair State my home for good.

Making Connections in the Classroom:

For many college freshmen, including myself, it did get lonely just going to class and coming back to my dorm without really knowing anyone besides my roommate. I had already considered myself a pretty extroverted person so I did not think making connections would be as difficult as it was. Especially at a commuter school, these kids in your class are there to go to class and leave, as most of them have jobs and other responsibilities that may not allow them to get involved at school. It is a different environment when you get to college because you did not grow up with these people in your classrooms. These are not familiar faces so it can be intimidating to try and spark up a conversation with a stranger. I had simply taken it upon myself to be as extroverted and outgoing as I possibly could be and ask the people sitting next to me questions in class that then leads to more. What I had found to be the way to get to know your fellow classmates was making study groups and group chats. I would meet up with people who later became familiar faces I could say hi to on campus because we helped each other in class and spent time together. Also, complaining about your professors together really brings you closer.

Joining an On-Campus Organization:

For many students not everyone has the opportunity to dorm on campus and have that full “college experience” but commuting to school does not mean you won’t have friends. To everyone I know going to a commuter school I recommend getting heavily involved on your campus. For me, joining Greek life was the reason I stayed at Montclair and did not end up transferring. I was walking on the student quad one day after class, a DJ booth blasted music as I saw students had tables lined up promoting different clubs and programs. I grabbed as many pamphlets and flyers as I could relating to causes I was passionate about. Greek Life showed opportunities for leadership development, community service, and would provide the one thing I was searching for; friends. Greek Life gave me some lifelong friends and I would recommend it to everyone I know. Especially at a commuter school, you want to find something that makes you feel like campus is not just for class. Montclair has many organizations, like the Office of Commuter Life, that do a lot for its students. This organization specifically caters fun events for commuters and brings awareness to commuter-specific concerns. With the right mindset and determination to make connections you can expand your social circle without feeling like the commuter school label is to blame. Take advantage of all the opportunities the school has to offer. You are paying tuition for these clubs and organizations to be there so go out to that club fair, say hi to that recurring classmate, and go to those silly freshman events they hold. You never know, you might meet your future bridesmaid at the stuff-a-dino event.

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