The University Commute and effects on wellbeing

The topic that I have come up with relating to the ‘University Experience’ is the Commute. Hundreds of Uni students travel near and far to attend University and get an education. My goal is to evaluate how this affects students’ routines, stress levels and time management while at uni. This can be all forms of transport; train, car, bus etc.

Some questions I would delve into are:

-How long is your commute?

-Is commuting better than living on campus?

-How do you organise assignments, work or family commitments around commuting?

-Do you feel connected to your uni peers?

I have personal experience with this, as I commute to uni via train for all of my subjects. It takes on average around an hour and 10 minutes. For a round trip, that’s over 2 hours. For myself personally, it is hard getting up for early classes, but on the commute I either draw or listen to music to relax.

Asking students about their commute is achievable on campus/ twitter as there are people bound to have different experiences with commuting, and as the semester has started, there are people that have to reflect on starting up their schedules again. For this particular semester, I can enquire on how the lack of a commute has changed their feelings about commuting.

I polled other students on Twitter about their mode of transport to uni, and how long their trip was.

From the results of the poll, it seems most people live close to uni and mostly commute by car. However from the 66 people that responded to my first poll, around 15 people have to endure a commute longer than an hour, which is tough. What surprised me was that most people used a car, I thought more students would be inclined to use public transport but almost 50% of the 35 people use a car. It would be interesting to study how much extra time the car people use up for traffic and trying to find parking on campus.

I found some resources to back up my point that this topic is worth exploring.

Commuter Students

Students commute because they have different responsibilities, such as family, job commitments or housing status. First year students that commute can also have a hard time ‘fitting in’ to campus life, as they are not around their peers 24/7 and don’t enjoy extra-curricular benefits due to other responsibilities. As a result of the lack of socialisation on campus leads to less development as a whole. Commuters often find stress in scheduled classes, as they need larger blocks of classes at certain times, to free them up for other responsibilities they need to attend to. Commuter students also have lower retention rates that people living on campus, owing to the fact that there is less interaction with social and academic systems on campus. They therefore have less connection and drop out easier. This study was done in the US, but is relevant to Australian universities as well.

Happiness and Satisfaction with Commute

People satisfied with their work commute has a big effect on their outlook, making it positive. Some factors including having a short commute, biking or walking. These provide a small but necessary buffer from private life. However, commutes are still mostly stressful for people, owing to the travel time involved. Long commutes and congested traffic, cause stress in the workplace. But for longer commutes either social interaction or entertainment can counteract the negative feelings of a commute. It’s important to note that this study took in Sweden and may not be reflective of Australian commuting habits.

Stress Doesn’t Pay- Commuting Paradox

It discusses the effects commuting has on the person, in which the article describes how it can generate out of pocket costs (For train, tolls, parking etc.) and can put a divide between family, as there is less time to see them. Commuting is also a salient and boring activity that is needed to go to uni. Financial insecurity of commuting can also be a big risk, especially for studying uni students with just a part time job. Commuting also has other stressors, such as crowds, noises, traffic congestion and so forth.

How the commute is changing who we are

This article thinks about the commute as an experience that we live though, silently shaping us as we go through it. We have so many experiences with other people in a commute and how we react that it changes us. The commute is full of activities, though constrained by the transportation. If people are repeatedly exposed to negative situations on a commute, that can change a persons desires on commuting. Likewise, if they have a strong social commute group, they might like the act of commuting more.

The issues on commuting have definitely been talked about before, but I feel confident enough about gathering resources and having my own perspective on events. Commuting is also not specifically related to uni, as many people also commute to work. These areas have lots of overlap between them, as no travelling strictly relates to uni or work, and I can use these related resources for psychological impacts.


Commuter Students-

Tenhouse A. (2005) ‘Commuter Students’ StateUniversity nd. Available at: https://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1875/Commuter-Students.html Accessed 29/03/20

Happiness and Satisfaction with Commute-

Olsson et al, (2012) ‘Happiness and Satisfaction with Work Commute’ Social Indicators Research, 111 (255-263) DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0003-2, Accessed 29/03/20

Stress doesn’t pay- Commuter paradox-

Stutzer A. & Frey B. (2004) ‘Stress that doesn’t pay: The commuting paradox’ IZA 1278 Accessed 29/03/20

How the everyday commute is changing who we are-

Bissell D. (2018) ‘How the everyday commute is changing who we are’ The Conversation July 31st. Available At: https://theconversation.com/how-the-everyday-commute-is-changing-who-we-are-100323 , Accessed 29/03/20

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