Is Friends Worth the Commute?
The Friends School of Baltimore is one of many schools in the Roland Park/Baltimore area that draws kids from far and wide. According to Admissions Directors Paula Easton and Amy Mortimer, while the bulk of students come from inside the Baltimore beltway, an increasing number of students are coming anywhere from Annapolis to York, PA.
Having more students come from outside the beltway “is an intention of ours. We would love to spread out geographically, so we’re all about making it possible for families and having it be a consideration,” said Ms. Mortimer.
Because of the importance of having “zip code diversity,” the Admissions Counselors have begun to start advertising further away by attending fairs, putting ads in malls and radio shows (like NPR and Spotify), and making sure they have parents in a variety of places to spread interest by word of mouth.
“Our sense from the marketing department is that the word about Friends is getting out there more, which is only beneficial for a further reach,” said Ms. Easton.
You might be aware of some fellow students who have a long commute, but living far from school has more of an impact than a few mornings stuck in rush hour traffic. These students have to tackle obstacles in everything from social hangouts to getting homework completed.
Why? In the words of the Dean of Student Life, Bill Ball, “I don’t know if we [Friends] necessarily think too much about where kids are coming from or if they’ll be able to get home… I think our events are kind of just set year to year.”
The long commute takes a big toll on students’ ability to make plans with friends.
“I’d say it’s harder for me to hang out with friends if something spontaneous comes up cause it’s hard to just get down there,” said senior Meg Van den Beemt.
One of the most exciting parts of high school is having the ability to be spontaneous. But for students like Meg, senior Sarah Lynch, and junior Katie Bauer, spontaneity isn’t really an option.
Sarah agreed. She was thankful her parents were lenient with her curfew. Otherwise, she felt she would miss out on a lot. According to some of the students with long commutes, one of the most difficult aspects of living far from school is the time it takes to return home after an after school event.
“After the [recent] senior dinner I got home at 10:00, which was really late, and I still hadn’t done any homework,” said Sarah.
“Waking up really early in the morning, sometimes I’m really tired while driving because I’m up late doing homework.” Because she lives in Hartford county, Sarah says this happens regularly, and causes real problems for her when trying to get through the rest of the week.
This is also true for Meg, who lives near the Pennsylvania line. Another big issue according to Meg is the difficulty in participating in school sports.
“[My sport] got out at 5:30 but my sister’s sport didn’t end till 6:00, so we wouldn’t get home until 6:30-6:45 and then you know the night is pretty much getting close to the end, so it is difficult,” Meg explained.
“I’ll get home late from soccer and I won’t have any time to do homework,” junior Katie Bauer agreed.
“Rush hour is tough,” acknowledged Mr. Ball, but “most families make it work out where they [use the Kangaroo Coach], or whether it’s getting up really early, you know, finding a way that kind of works better for travel.”
And that's just what all these students do. They find a way to make it work.
So, even though it is a hassle, is it worth it to come to Friends? Every student responded unanimously–“Yes!”