What is the college experience?

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People always go on about how your college years are the best years of your life. I've even heard people say that the "college experience" justifies the exorbitant cost of attendance. I went to a community college and am going to transfer to a cheaper (but no less capable when it comes to helping me along in my career) commuter university. I won't be having the full "college experience" since I will be transferring as a junior with finding an internship as one of my main priorities. I'll also be going to a commuter school which means a large number of students live at home and drive to school. I would like to know what exactly I am missing out on by not attending a party school as a freshman.

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"Drip" has given you some worthwhile information, and I agree with that answer.  Some, more ignorant high schoolers define the "college experience" as getting drunk, acting like jerks, and doing all the things their parents would prevent if they were living at home.  I had a roommate who followed that path and was kicked out of school before the first semester of freshman year ended.  The real "college experience" is living on your own, being responsible for your own welfare, developing new friendships with others facing the same challenges you face, and growing, not only in intellectual abilities but generally as a person.  Living on campus provides some experiences which only "resident students" have, but the same can be said for students who commute.  Nobody prevents commuter students from taking advantage of what the college has to offer.  The ones who are left out are those who jump in their cars as soon as class ends and rush off-campus to be somewhere else.  Commuter students who do their studying on campus at a library, on a bench in the outdoors, in a dining hall, at a student union, or wherever other people gather will certainly develop similar friendships to those who live on campus.  Commuter students have the same opportunities to work directly with professors, join "work/study" programs, get into clubs, and participate in college activities which "resident students" have.  Commuter students who feel that they are not getting the "college experience" always have the option of increasing their involvement in college life.
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You have a very fcuked up idea of what "the college experience" is.
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It isn’t about partying. It is about being on your own and learning to live with, interact with other students. Once at a university you will find more students who are not like you. Didn’t grow up in the area. A larger mix of different people,    living away from your parents. Dealing with being on your own.

Many students at CC and universities that have a large commuter percentage don’t stay on campus. They go to class and leave, they don’t use the facilities on campus. Tutoring center, library, students center, rec center, entertainment, clubs. . They don’t interact as much with each other.  The campus can be empty over the weekends

Going direct to a university has its advantages. My son-in-law had his internships already set up by the end of sophomore year. Sophomore year he worked with a couple of professors in his major. They had him doing grunt work on their research. He established a relationship with them. He got the internship junior year because they knew him and his work. One professor helped him with a paid internship at a major company immediately after senior year.. And when he graduated, the professor called graduate school direct to recommend him.
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