Life as a Commuting Student
If you commute to college, you join a rapidly growing movement that is significantly affecting higher education in the United States. In fact, nearly 86 percent of college students commute to campus, according to a 1998 report published by the National Center for Education Statistics. That number undoubtedly has since risen. Like other kinds of students, this growing population has its own idiosyncrasies and requirements in order to be happy and successful while in college. Commuter students must deal with traffic problems, parking lot worries, limited access to educational resources, and time wasted during the commute. If you find yourself suddenly in this group of students, here are a few things you can do to balance some of the inconveniences you might face throughout the semester.
The first thing you should do is establish for yourself a commuting routine. It should be an efficient and cost effective way of getting you from your apartment to your first class of the day. Before each semester starts, figure out your schedule and take a day during the week to test the commute. This may sound silly, but the time you take to prepare will save you some stress later on when you realize you’re behind schedule. Give yourself an extra half hour during the first and last weeks of the semester to avoid the traffic crush.
Once you get into the routine, you should find a way to build your lessons into your commute. Try to make recordings of the lectures so you can listen to them in the car. If you can, find audio books of your course materials when applicable. You could even download videos onto your iPad or smart phone to take with you if you ride the bus. Of course, all of this will only be useful for a limited amount of course materials. If all else fails (and you’re not driving), you can put on some headphones and review your notes on the bus.
Finally, because you’ll only be on campus at certain times, make sure that you schedule your classes, study sessions, and meetings all on the same day to maximize your school time. For example, meet with your professor right before class, and spend time in the library between lectures. Often, libraries will let you rent a study carrel for the semester, which can function as your home away from home, so that way, at the end of the day you can rest easy knowing you’ve gotten all your work done.