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What Is a Commuter College?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Some students look forward to attending a traditional four year college and living in dormitory housing provided by the institution. Others may prefer to attend college-level classes or receive adult career training while living at home or in other off-campus housing. A college or university which caters primarily to the needs of commuting students is commonly referred to as a commuter college. A commuter college provides the instructors, buildings and support facilities needed to complete a course of instruction, but not necessarily the dormitories, student life centers, or sports facilities associated with traditional colleges.

A small community college or private training school may not promote itself as a commuter school, but its student body is often composed of local residents who live with their parents or live in their own off-campus apartments. Older students returning to school for additional training or a new degree often choose to attend a local college instead of moving to a distant traditional college which may be too youth-oriented. A commuter school may offer some social programs for students, but its main emphasis is on instruction.

Attending a commuter college often makes better financial sense for students who are not interested in the traditional college lifestyle or experience. Dormitory housing is often required for at least a student's freshman year at a traditional four year college, and may be the most affordable option for the student's remaining years. Living in dormitory housing is not always a pleasant experience for older students or those who desire more privacy. Attending a college with no dormitory housing requirements can be a more workable solution for students who only want to attend classes and go back to their jobs or private homes.

Some commuter colleges offer a limited number of degrees or specialized training courses because they do not have all of the facilities of traditional colleges. Some courses of study, such as business or accounting, may be easier to take at a commuter college because of fewer on-campus distractions. Other degree fields such as fine arts or liberal arts are often better served at traditional colleges with a more diverse student body. This type of college functions most often as a less expensive alternative for students who seek higher education opportunities closer to friends, jobs and families.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to Practical Adult Insights, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By ColdRain — On Jul 21, 2010

NewsGuru-I agree that taking public transit is a good way to save money if you attend a commuter school.

Some universities even offer free subway or bus passes to students. Check with the student services department at your university to see if they offer these passes.

By NewsGuru — On Jul 21, 2010

A student considering attending a commuter college will need to determine how they will be getting to school each day. If you plan to drive, this can often cost a great deal of money after paying for gas, parking and car payments and insurance.

A good alternative to driving is taking public transit. It will likely take you a little longer to get to school, but you will ultimately save a lot of money.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to Practical Adult Insights, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to...
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