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

This story is part of the “Not So Golden” collaborative project of the California Youth Radio Network.

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 Sánchez, have to travel hours to get to school.

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

Sánchez 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.

Sánchez 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.

Sánchez 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. Sánchez takes full advantage of that time by doing homework or relaxing.

“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.”

Carla Sánchez

A Metrolink round-trip ticket from San Bernardino to Cal State LA for students costs $14.50. Since Sánchez 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, Sánchez 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.”

About #NotSoGolden

This story is part of “Not So Golden,” a glimpse into how many California young adults are making it work. This California Youth Media Network project is a collaboration between Boyle Heights Beat, The kNOwWe’Ced and YR Media. The work was produced by a team of young journalists from Fresno, Los Angeles, Merced and Oakland.

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Jacqueline Ramírez is a former reporter and recent graduate from Mount Saint Mary’s University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and New Media. She enjoys sharing the art of storytelling...

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