Maintaining relationships as commuters

Commuters save money by opting out of Biola housing but must make the extra effort to keep up relationships.


Ashley Jones

Juniors and siblings, Amanda and Joshua Sansonetti and their parents, Kenny and Veronica talk about the experience of commuting from home to Biola. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES

Sarah Seman, Writer

Juniors and siblings, Amanda and Joshua Sansonetti and their parents, Kenny and Veronica talk about the experience of commuting from home to Biola. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES

Nearly one-third of Biola’s 4,076 undergraduate students commute, and with rising tuition costs and a 5.34 percent increase in the student population, commuters can save money, escape the crowds and perhaps even have a more comprehensive educational experience.

“Students that live at home get a real opportunity to integrate their worlds,” said Jenny Matthes, associate director of Commuter Life.

Students integrate home and school life

Many students, particularly those who come from out of state, are more susceptible to having separate home lives and college lives.

“It’s exciting, but you just long for those two worlds to connect, and these students actually get that opportunity,” Matthes said

Sophomore communications sciences and disorders major Sarah Poli, who has lived with her family since starting at Biola, said her worlds are very well integrated, since she is able to see the perspective of both her friends and her parents.

“I am able to compare and contrast both and kind of see the pros and cons of each side,” Poli said.

Torrey Honors Institute juniors music major Amanda and math major Joshua Sansonetti moved with their parents, Ken and Veronica from Rancho Cucamonga to La Mirada two years ago. They are now closer to Ken Sansonetti workplace in Hawthorne and are saving the cost of room and board.

With the average price of a Biola dorm at $4,537 a year and the cheapest flex meal-plan at $3,090 a year, Ken calculated that by living at home, the cost of college attendance for two students went down by almost $16,000 a year.

“What I like about them being at home is that they still are in touch with reality,” Veronica Sansonetti said.

Things like paying bills, repairing home problems, going grocery shopping and caring for family members with illnesses are integrated into their lives so that there is more than just the academic and social realms students living on-campus generally interact with.

Easy to be hospitable

Joshua Sansonetti said they also have an unique opportunity to reach out to students and welcome them into a home. They will often have students, and even faculty members, over to bake or have Star Wars marathons.

“Some of the kids come over and say ‘Oh a dog! Oh a fireplace!’” laughed Ken Sansonetti. There are just the little things you miss when you’re not at home, he explained.

While it may seem that by living off-campus friendships have a higher potential to weaken, the Sansonetti siblings feel that being at home is an advantage.

“I am actually more intentional now,” Joshua said. Because he is not just haphazardly meeting up with people in the Caf or constantly passing by familiar faces, as many do on campus, he is learning how to cultivate and maintain lasting friendships.

Poli said that staying connected on campus has not been difficult. She has made friends through her classes as well as through her work on staff at the Collegium. Poli will even occasionally stay with her friends in their dorms so that she still gets to experience the more traditional college life.

Making the extra effort to connect

Commuting senior art major Megan Wheeldon, said that while she does save money, not being on campus becomes a disadvantage when forming friendships.

“You aren’t around all the people all the time, like everyone else is. You are kind of detached in that way.” Wheeldon said. She also elaborated on the difficulties in staying informed about what is happening on campus, saying that it is partly because most of the posters are near the Caf where many commuters do not go.

Junior humanities major Christen Brown, commuter senator, agrees that commuters need to be reached out to more.

“As far as information, I think [Good Morning OCC] and the Collegium are the best places to get it,” Brown said.

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