Like many other students who commute to class at Temple University, Veronica Perez is constantly on her feet.
Perez, a sophomore communication and social influence major, starts her day at 6:30 a.m. when she readies herself to board the Market-Frankford Line from Northeast Philadelphia, transfer to the Broad Street Line at City Hall and hopefully arrive on time to her 8 a.m. class.
Of the more than 29,000 students enrolled at Temple, only about 11,000 live on or near Main Campus, according to Temple University’s 2017-18 fact book.
Students who lived on campus at their university reported having a higher collegiate sense of community than those living off-campus, a 2013 study by the International Journal of Adolescence and Youth found.
Factoring in travel time is a somewhat obvious, but not always easy, obstacle students who commute to classes must navigate. The city environment provides access to trains and buses, and commuters can take advantage of the discounted SEPTA pass program available to all registered full-time students.
Because she works at Brandy Melville in Center City, Perez manages her time around both her school and work schedules, leaving room to finish lingering work. She takes five classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Knowing I was going to commute, [I] didn’t want to spend a long time commuting for one or two classes,” she said.
But some students experience frustration with the length of their commutes. This takes away from the time they can be engaged with the Temple community and their hometown communities.
Nicholas Romano, a freshman community development major, rides both the trolley and train in his commute to Temple from Center City. While his time on public transportation is about 15 minutes, his total commute is closer to 40 minutes when he factors in walking to and from stations and classes, he said.
Mariama Sarr, a sophomore criminal justice major who commutes from Northeast Philly, said her only issue with being a commuter is how unreliable the busses and trains are.
“You sometimes miss the bus or the train and then you’re late for class,” Sarr said. “Your whole day is ruined.”
Tony Clark, a junior history major, commutes to Temple from Yardley, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour train ride. In Clark’s experience, the Regional Rail schedule can be inconsistent, he said. The Regional Rail typically runs once per hour, outside of morning and evening rush hours, for the line he takes, so missing a train can mess up his whole day, Clark added.
He also balances a job on top of his schoolwork and said convenience and affordability factored into his decision to commute.
“I decided to commute because it was easier to stay at home with my parents due to how short the commute is,” Clark said.
For Perez, happiness in her home environment played a large role in her decision to commute.
“A big part of why I decided to commute was because I’m comfortable with my situation at home,” Perez said.
This could be different for someone living in a packed home with many siblings, she added.
Romano did not see commuting as an obstacle in his social life.
“I don’t think it is an impediment to my social life,” Romano said. “It’s hard sometimes, but I still make the time and it’s definitely manageable for me.”
However, the students said there were ways the university could better support them as members of the Temple community.
For Perez, despite having room to relax at home, there is a need for more hang-out spaces for commuters on Main Campus. The commuter lounge on the corner of Berks and Warnock streets, which opened in 2015, isn’t as convenient as it’s supposed to be, she added.
It is a small space, gets crowded during certain busy hours and lacks outlets to charge electronics, Perez said.
“It’s a little small and the seating is uncomfortable,” Perez said. “I would like to see Temple creating more spaces on campus for commuters.”