The switch to online classes has given York students a reprieve from the academic and financial drawbacks of commuting to campus.
A 2019 StudentMoveTO survey on student transportation states that almost one-third of participants view their commute to campus as a barrier to success.
On average, students from post-secondary institutions within the Greater Toronto Area spend 45.9 minutes one-way commuting to class. The costs associated with the transportation needed for their commute rack up to an average of $220.00 per student every month.
A survey shows that 41 per cent of students claim their commute discourages them from coming to campus, and 60 per cent say it discourages them from participating in campus activities and events.
“Since the GO buses are no longer available, my typical commute takes me about an hour and 45 minutes one-way, meaning I spend around three and a half hours commuting in total,” explains Melanie De Ocampo, a third-year international business administration student at Schulich.
“Although some may say it allows for time to read lecture notes or readings, the reality is far from that. With the commutes being jittery, seats uncomfortable, and sometimes crowded to the point where there’s no space to pull out a textbook or notes—that is if you find a seat. The commute is dreadful.”
With so much time and money spent on commuting, the survey shows that 41 per cent of students claim their commute discourages them from coming to campus, and 60 per cent say it discourages them from participating in campus activities and events.
“At times I feel discouraged coming to class or events given how time-consuming commuting to campus is,” says Ameera Hameed, a third-year business administration student at Schulich. “It takes about three hours in total per day for me.”
Temporary changes at York, however, will help students like Hameed this semester.
Yanni Dagonas, York’s deputy spokesperson, provided some insight about the actions that must be taken to ensure the safety of students as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
As much as online school and being on Zoom gets a bit tiring, it beats the long commute.
“The gradual reopening of our campuses will continue to be guided by public health and government guidelines,” says Dagonas. “Within those guidelines, the goal is to limit the use of campus facilities to the most critical activities for students, faculty, and staff in ways that put the health and safety of our community first.”
Since the use of campus space is restricted, and most York classes are online this semester, commuting students are catching a break from their lengthy travels to campus. Online classes were formed simply as a means of delivering course content remotely, but they are proving to be quite advantageous for these students.
“Online school is definitely beneficial for me as a commuter. I save so much time and money,” Hameed says. “I noticed that my days are so much more productive and I’m genuinely enjoying online school for this reason.”
Students are also finding that they now have extra time for activities they would otherwise not be able to do if classes hadn’t shifted from in-class to online.
“Not having to drive during rush hour to attend my 8:30 a.m. lectures has motivated me to attend every class,” says Nain Mehta, a third-year business administration student at Schulich.
“Beyond that, I have the time to cook breakfast, workout, and relax before my class begins every morning. Although I miss many aspects of being in person, I do appreciate the convenience of not commuting,” Mehta adds.
“I would typically reach my house at 11:00 pm, and as most of my classes were 8:30 am, this created a very unsustainable and exhausting schedule that affected me both physically and mentally,” de Ocampo says. “As much as online school and being on Zoom gets a bit tiring, it beats the long commute.”