Day-zed and Confused

I often grapple with the positive and negative aspects of being a day student. There are certain inevitable perks that come with living at home: we day students are able to see family and friends at home, enjoy home-cooked meals, evade sign-in and study-hours, and watch whatever we want on TV (provided we can wrestle the remote away from our siblings). However, day students are faced with an inescapable truth that is deeply rooted in the history of Phillips Academy: PA is a boarding school, and therefore, it is not entirely accommodating to its commuting students. Cluster munches are at 9:30 pm. For the boarders who are holed up in their rooms fifty feet from the event, this isn’t a problem. It’s easy to leave your math homework for a couple minutes to grab a slice of pie. But day students are either burrowed under piles of books in the library or already at home. The late hours of these munches and their remote locations, deep in the Quads or far off in Abbot, are the reasons for poor day student attendance. Day students’ parents have lives and schedules too; sometimes, it isn’t feasible for us to stay on campus past 11 on weekends. Very frequently, we miss out on the campus night life. Day students are also alienated from life in the dorm. Once a day student gets into the car to go home, we are cut off from the campus, while the boarders are constantly surrounded by a bubble of interactions and activity. Consequently, day students are usually the last people to find out about anything happening on campus. Experiences and conversations shared in the dorm create a completely unique bond that cannot be shared by those who aren’t on campus 24/7. It’s not a rare occurrence for a teacher to assign a last-minute project or require class attendance for a speaker at night. Boarders can easily adjust to these changes in schedules, but day students are forced to rework not only our own schedules, but our parents’ as well. People on campus often make the generalization that it’s not a problem to schedule impromptu late-night rehearsals or weekend practices. For those who don’t live on campus, this often means an extra twenty minute car-ride. I introduced myself to someone at the beginning of the year and the first question we asked each other was “What dorm are you in?” Upon realizing we were both day students, I thought about the assumption often made that every person on this campus lives in a dorm. Roughly 72% of students live in dorms: why do we expect that 99% do? It makes sense that the campus accommodates the boarding students: PA is their permanent home and must provide them with all the essentials of living. But the truth is that students and faculty tend to forget about the 28% of the students who can’t simply waltz over to the library on Sunday afternoon for a study session. Being a day student can be frustrating and inconvenient. But there comes a time in the lives of all day students that make the once glimmering dreams of boarder-hood fade. We are transformed from lowly commuters to the empowered individuals with four wheels and an engine: we get licenses and cars. Do I enjoy being a day student? Not yet. For me, it is frustrating to observe the way that the school caters specifically to its permanent residents. But in a few short months, when I’m riding on my own four wheels, I don’t think I’ll mind much at all.