By Liz Martinez, The Whetstone

 My school morning routine is a bit different than most students at Wesley College.

I wake up, get ready, and eat breakfast just like everyone else. But then I hop into my car, buckle up, and make a 20-minute drive. I do all this to head to my daily classes.

As a commuter, I constantly get asked if I feel like I’m missing out on the whole “college experience.” My answer is always this: my choice to drive to school rather than live on campus benefits my experience more than it sets me back.

Before I graduated high school, I dreamed about leaving the nest and living at college. My pride made me think there was no other way to get a degree, so moving away was my one and only plan.

I spent my first semester in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s University where I quickly found out I would never live in a dorm again. Emphasis on never.

I didn’t get along with my roommate, the food was disgusting and it was really hard to focus on classes. This was not how I wanted my “college experience” to unfold.

After I learned that lesson, I took the risk of coming back home with a bruised ego, and I enrolled at Wesley, the only other school I applied to.

I was nervous. I knew residence life was not for me, but how did I know if the commuter life was?

After my first few weeks at Wesley with both lifestyle experiences under my belt, I decided to commute from my parents’ home in Smyrna.

I delight in the freedom to shower without flip flops on. I savor the tasty everyday home-cooked meals. I especially bask in the glory of looking at my tuition bill and know I’m saving money.

I traded in annoying roommates for privacy. I traded in loud dorm neighbors for the ability to focus and get better grades. I traded in school being my second home so my car could be instead.

I found my place as a commuter – but there are several problems that come with the territory.

I have to wake up earlier to beat traffic and to brave bad weather conditions. Once I make it through the drive, I have to fight to find a parking spot. Once I find place to park, I have to make sure that none of my classes got canceled during my commute.

Those are just the problems I face before I walk onto campus.

Being a commuter can be lonely at times since it’s harder to make friends and get involved. Not to mention how difficult it can be when I’m assigned a group project and I’m the only one who lives off campus.

Ultimately, everybody’s college experience is what they make of it, regardless if they live on or off campus. There is no right way to go through college.

But there is for me. After I finish my classes for the day, I pack my bag, get in my car and drive home to a home-cooked meal and privacy.