A Look into YSU’s Commuter Student Body

By Maria Elliott

Youngstown State University currently enrolls over 12,000 students, with on-campus housing available for roughly 1,200 of those students, according to the university’s website.

Due to limited housing availability, the majority of students at YSU live off campus and commute for classes.

Sally Frederick, a commuter student and sophomore in YSU’s individualized curriculum program, said she looked into living on campus but felt it was too expensive.

“I purchased a house [near Austintown] two years ago as it was cheaper overall than any rental options I had,” she said.

Frederick said living on campus would have decreased her commute time, saved her money on transportation costs and given her the full “college experience.”

In the end, Frederick said she’s satisfied with her decision to stay off campus, but she still wonders what on-campus life is like.

“If I thought I could afford it, I would love to spend just one semester on campus, but it’s not in the stars,” she said.

Another commuter student, senior information technology major Andrew Newell, said living off campus is preferable to the residence halls because off-campus students have more freedom.

Newell said it’s cheaper to live off campus, and he can own pets or a service animal. He said other benefits of commuting are living closer to the stores he needs to go to and not having to worry about parking times on campus.

Newell also said he enjoys the ability to get away from school when he needs a break, but he likes that educational assistance is always available before leaving campus.

“You’re getting the same quality as students who live on campus,” he said regarding the education.

Danny O’Connell, director of support services, has worked at YSU for over 30 years. He said it’s been interesting to watch the campus evolve and grow over time, and he believes the addition of newer dorms have helped encourage growth in YSU’s commuter population.

Youngstown State University students commuting to campus. Photo by Maria Elliott/Jambar Contributor

“The growth of the dorms on campus actually enhanced the commuter experience because when we had one dorm there wasn’t a whole lot of reasons to stay on campus,” O’Connell said. 

YSU is in a unique position because it offers a traditional campus environment even though the majority of students don’t live on campus, according to O’Connell.

He said he sees campus activities and organizations thriving better than ever with the ability for commuters to get involved, and he added the revitalization of the downtown area has helped draw in commuter students as well.

“I don’t see anything that excludes commuter students from participating in … every facet of college life,” he said.

O’Connell said the academic experience for a commuter student doesn’t differ at all from that of a student who lives on campus. He said the biggest differences for commuters are the social aspect of school and issues associated with travel, like bad weather or having to get up earlier for class.

“I think that commuter base helps, in a very affordable fashion, a student to have a traditional campus life,” O’Connell said.