Not So Golden

Struggles Facing California’s Young Adults

A Day in the Life of a Super Commuter

Carla Sanchez rides the Metrolink train as she commutes to Cal State Los Angeles. (Photo: Pablo De La Hoya/ Boyle Heights Beat )

For many students, going to college means leaving home and living on campus. But not every college student can afford to do that. In some cases, students, like 22-year-old Carla Sanchez, have to travel hours to get to school.

Sanchez is part of a growing group called “super commuters,” or people who travel more than 90 minutes each way for work or school.

Sanchez and her family recently moved from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, which is 50 miles away. Since then, her commute to Cal State Los Angeles has tripled.

“It was mostly my dad’s choice to move because he was tired of paying rent, and he saw that the rent around our area was getting really high,” she said.

Sanchez is just one of many California college students who are making ends meet by living at home and commuting long distances to class. According to the US Census Bureau, 38 percent of California young adults ages 18-34 live at home with their parents.

Sanchez uses public transportation to and from school. Twice a week, her mom drives her to the Metrolink train station, where her long commute really starts. Without any train delays, it takes her an hour and twenty minutes to get to school. Sanchez takes full advantage of that time by doing homework or relaxing.

A Metrolink round-trip ticket from San Bernardino to Cal State LA for students costs $14.50. Since Sanchez commutes twice a week, she spends an average of $29 to get to school and back home. While that may not seem like a lot, the real savings come from living at home.

When picking out her classes, Sanchez has plenty to consider. To ease her commute, she takes classes only two days a week, but that comes with a cost: she has back-to-back classes from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. While the schedule can be exhausting, it gives Sanchez extra time at home to help her parents out with her autistic siblings.

Taking four classes in one day means all of her assignments are due on Wednesdays. Having so much schoolwork due on one day has been stressful for her this semester, and it’s affected her grades.

“I’m so glad that I’m almost done with the semester,” she said. “I’m almost graduating, and I won’t have to take the Metro anymore, nor be on campus the whole day. So, I’m really happy for that.”