Commuting to campus everyday is a completely different experience than living on campus. You have the benefits of spending significantly less on housing, hopefully no 3-am fire alarms, and not having to share a bathroom with 20 floormates. Commuting can also be challenging so here are a few tips to make the experience easier:
If you're starting at a new school, practice your commute by driving to school a few days before classes start. Try driving during similar times when you would be for classes to give yourself an idea of traffic patterns and how to adjust accordingly. Also, plan in time for parking because most campuses have a limited amount of spots so fighting for a spot can potentially make you late to class.
If you find out that the major highway you take to school is closed, you have three options: panic, skip class, or find another way to school. Having a backup route eliminates the stress if your normal route is not accessible due to traffic or weather.
College professors often cancel classes the morning of the class so always check your email before leaving for class; you don't want to drive to campus and then find out that your class was canceled.
Instead of spending an obscene amount of money on fast food or on-campus dining, bringing a lunch is a cost-saving alternative. Yes, it probably will feel like you're in elementary school again but your wallet (and body) will thank you for not spending $10 on a slice of pizza and a cookie.
Since you don't have the luxury of being able to run back to your dorm in between classes, your car will be your second home during the semester. Keeping snacks if you get hungry, a change of clothes in case the weather changes, chargers, and even a pillow to take a nap will prepare you for any situation. Additionally, keep a spare set of keys with you or someone you know just in case you lock yourself out of your car!
I would recommend scheduling your classes back-to-back and try to schedule them at non-rush hour times to prevent getting stuck in traffic on your way to class. Gaps may be nice to have some lunch or cram for an exam but they'll prolong your day. If possible, scheduling your classes for only 2-3 days per week will limit your trips to campus and give you time to work on off-school days.
One challenge of commuting is the difficulty of making friends. Joining clubs specifically for commuters, club sports, or major-related clubs are easy ways to get involved on campus and find your community. Even though as a commuter you aren't at the school as much as residents, commuters should always commit to being apart of campus life to maximize the college experience.
Commuting doesn't have to be so scary! Many people prefer commuting from home or from an on-campus house with friends to save money or gain independence. Make sure you are still involved on campus so you have a well-rounded college experience.
Rebecca is a senior marketing major at Hofstra University. Originally from Colchester, Connecticut, she loves exploring New York City and finding all the best food. You can usually find her anywhere that serves pizza, buffalo wings, or chocolate milkshakes while panicking over her post-graduation future.