Signaling and yelling, Virginia Dundon was left in a panic when the bus flew past her stop. With only 45 minutes to make it and no other bus in sight, she paid $60 for an Uber to campus.
That’s just one of the several stories Dundon shared about her long commute. Traveling from Teaneck, New Jersey to Hunter College requires a bus ride and two trains. “I have to worry about leaving my house two hours before I need to get somewhere,” she says.
College students face a variety of stressors, and commuting is a challenging one. About 20% of CUNY undergraduate students experience anxiety, according to a report by the CUNY School of Public Health. The commute to campus causes stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and poor attendance for city students.
When Dundon decided to attend Hunter College for its relatively low tuition, she considered her long commute to campus. Dundon is on the swim team, which gives her priority registration but still doesn’t eliminate the unpredictability of her commute.
Dundon, an English major, says her commute is stressful. “It screws up my attendance when I miss my bus by a few minutes and have to wait another half hour for the next one,” she says.
It takes Fordham student Israt Metu an hour and a half train ride from the Upper West Side to The Bronx. Metu is constantly anxious about missing class. “If I am late to class, I just don’t go because I get nervous about setting bad impressions,” she says.
Metu, who majors in humanitarian studies, arrives hours early to campus every day. “Even if my class starts later in the day, I try getting on the train by 9 a.m. I go and sit as many hours as it is till my class starts so I can be at peace even though I miss out on hours of sleep,” she says.
About 90% of college students said they felt overwhelmed due to their priorities in the past twelve months, according to a 2018 report from the American College Health Association. After her daily three-hour commute, Metu says her work isn’t the best it could be. “I am tired after class and work and I don’t get to put in as much effort or time as I would like,” she says.
Students’ commutes are made that much more difficult by the unreliability of the MTA.
Transfer student Jamiles Fana, is always anxious about making it to Lehman College in time. Fana, a speech pathology major, recalls in September when a man committed suicide on the 4 line. “I was stuck on the train for my entire French class and had to take a shuttle bus home after. I was frustrated,” says Fana.
During rush hour, “trains are super crowded, people aggressively push to get inside, everyone is super close and breathing on one another. It’s not pretty,” says social work major Tamara Casco about the 6 train.
Although her 45-minute commute to Hunter College can be stressful, Casco uses the time productively to catch up on reading and podcasts. She says spends her commute by “catching up with the world.”
“The commute is like a buffer,” says Dundon. “Like when the video isn’t loading.”