How commuting has improved my mental health

By Stephanie McClelland
March 4, 2019

I lived on campus throughout my freshman, sophomore and half of my junior year of college. During that time, I was already struggling mentally in many aspects of my life.

I had been struggling with depression after being diagnosed with epilepsy during the second semester of my senior year of high school. Shortly after that, I had to move away from home. I do live relatively close to Cabrini but the idea of living in a new environment away from my family made me anxious and more depressed.

I did enjoy the two years that I lived on campus and I had an amazing roommate experience, which is more than a lot of people can say and I made some of my closest friends.

Stephanie and her friends ice skating. Photo by Stephanie McClelland

When sophomore year came I started thinking about commuting and how it would probably be better for my mental health because I would feel more productive and save money. I knew that I would be sad leaving my friends so I didn’t dwell on the thought.

However, living on campus is rather expensive and I felt guilty for making my mom take loans out just so that I could live 20 minutes away from home. I also know that I will soon have to pay back those loans so commuting from home seemed like the better option to save money and for my mental health.

My mom and I decided over the summer that commuting would be the best option for me, so I stayed on campus the first semester of my junior year because I had already promised a lot of people that I would move into the apartments with them and did not want to pull out at the last minute.

I have just started commuting this semester and it has already helped me so much. I feel that I am more in control of my own schedule and I feel more productive and busy since I now have to drive to school. I have found more time in my schedule to pick up a second job waitressing on the weekends. On top of babysitting during the week, I do all of this knowing that I am not only helping myself out financially but I am also helping my mom.

Stephanie driving to Cabrini. Photo by Stephanie McClelland

I have also found it easier to save money since I started living at home because I am not going out with my friends for food every night. My grades have never been better since I find it so much easier to focus at my desk in my bedroom at home rather than in a dorm. I find it so much easier to stay on top of my schoolwork than before when all I would want to do is lay in my bed.

I do miss my friends but I am only 20 minutes away and I see them when I get breaks in-between my classes. They always remind me that my old bed is always open if I need it, which is very reassuring and helps me not feel as bad for leaving. I also get to see my friends from high school a lot more now that I’m home and a lot of them commute as well.

I think I have made the right choice in commuting financially, socially and mentally. Of course, there are aspects of dorm life that I miss but I know that I am always welcome and can visit any time I want and I truly have not been this happy since high school. If you are someone who struggles with a lot of the same aspects as me and lives close by, I encourage you to commute as well because it has helped me so immensely.

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Stephanie McClelland

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