Educational consultant Mark Montgomery visits the University of Miami to talk about its high commuter population and how it affects campus life. Something to think about when searching for the perfect college.
So today I’m on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and took a great tour, got a sense of the campus. Kind of surprising actually, when I first drove in I was like, “Wait a minute, this doesn’t seem that cool.” But then, once you actually get inside the campus, it’s actually quite beautiful. And it is Florida, after all, so the weather’s pretty much great all year round, even when it’s cloudy.
So one of the things that I like to do when I’m on a tour is ask the tour guide, gently, what are their pet peeves? What are the things that they don’t like so much about their school? Especially if they’re a junior or a senior, they’ve had time to be on campus long enough to see the warts, and that’s how I actually talk about it. I don’t talk about it like complaints, but every place, once you get familiar with it, you see the things that are not so possum.
So he said really quickly, really easily, he said, “Well you know, one of the things about the University of Miami is that is has a relatively high commuter population, 20%.” I’d like to see that statistic, I’m going to have to look it up. But 20% of students are actually commuters, meaning that they are from the local community, probably living at home with their parents or with other family members, and commuting to and from the campus every day, not living on the campus. Or not living nearby with friends and roommates, that’s a different thing, that’s off-campus housing.
Anyway, commuters, they come, they have a commuter center here that’s apparently great at helping get kids involved. But he mentioned that on a campus of 10,000 people, if 20% are leaving for the weekend and not coming to campus on the weekend, “it’s much quieter than I would have anticipated when I first thought to come here. So one of the questions to think about with some campuses is the proportion of commuters who will come to that campus every day. And that does affect what the life is like on the weekend. It may not affect the academic life at all because you’re still going to have that connection in the classroom, but it may affect the kind of environment you have on the campus, on the weekends, and the kind of activities and other social events or other campus events that may or may not have that commuter population participating in those events.
So I thought that was interesting and certainly something that you should think about when you’re trying to decide which campus is right for you. What is this proportion of commuters? Maybe you are a commuter and that’s a good thing for you. Or maybe you’re not, and you’re not looking for a campus that has that high population. So think about that as you’re investigating colleges and finding the campus that works for you.