Commuter colleges do have a plethora of wonderful hidden benefits. Photo courtesy of CU Denver

not traditional doesn’t equal bad

Commuter colleges do have a plethora of wonderful hidden benefits.
Photo courtesy of CU Denver

When choosing a college, many people have an idea of a sprawling campus with dorms, oak trees lining the sidewalks, and everyone from freshmen to seniors living on campus. CU Denver is almost the antithesis of that, but that’s not a death sentence at all. Commuter campuses are actually better than a traditional college experience. 

Yes, the campus is constantly making improvements and has even built a new dorm, City Heights, for freshmen, but there are so many perks to not going the traditional college route. If a student is from Denver and has the option to live with parents, they will save thousands of dollars on room and board. For those without that option, finding an apartment or room to rent somewhere in the city will most often be cheaper than using the on-campus housing options. 

A viable solution might be to live on campus for the first year, then move out with friends the next. Facebook groups for CU Denver students are a great way to find new roommates. While this is all doable at traditional colleges as well, being a commuter school in a city like Denver allows for a higher number of options to find the best living situation for the individual.

Perhaps the bigger concern for students when considering a commuter campus is the vibrancy (or lack thereof) of campus life. Well, fret not because CU certainly has an abundance of community and life within its modest campus. From student art shows and theater productions to open-mic nights and Rock the Block party, there’s usually something happening that students can attend (COVID-19 notwithstanding), often for free. But because CU Denver is a commuter campus in the downtown of a city of over one million people, there are also an incalculable number of other options. More museums, theaters, nightclubs, and historic buildings than any student could ask for. And food, so much good food.  

What’s best about all this is that by being in a metropolitan area like Denver, the robust (but flawed) public transportation system (RTD) removes the need for students to own a car, while not keeping them trapped on campus or in dorms for fear of missing out. Of course, students can own a car, which provides a nice plus, but in no way is it required to enjoy the city. Plus, an RTD College Pass is included in student fees, so all that’s needed is to head over to the Tivoli to pick it up. 

It’s probably already annoying to the prospective student how much CU Denver faculty and staff say “CU in the City,” but there’s a truth to that sentiment. The appeal of a commuter campus like this doesn’t end with getting a college degree for less money than private universities, but rather getting an education while being in the downtown of a major American city that is constantly evolving. Being part of that community makes the commuter lifestyle unique to the city.   

This is a selection from the 2021 Orientation Issue. To view the full issue, visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *