BY JANE HURST
Sure, there are many benefits to commuting to college from home versus living on campus — cost savings, bigger living space, more freedom, to name a few. But commuters also face their own set of problems, ranging from transportation hassles to feelings of isolation.
Here are some tips that can help make commuting a lot easier.
Get an On-Campus Job: There several benefits to getting a job right on campus, or at least close to campus. For one thing, you will make money to pay for your transportation costs. You will also meet new people, and you might even get some freebies or discounts, such as meals if you work in the dining hall. What’s more, writes Valencia Higuera in Money Crashers, “gaining work experience while in college puts you ahead of the competition.”
Use Public Transportation: Depending on where you live, you can opt to take the bus or a ride-sharing service. The only problem with this is that, even with a student discount, the costs of public transportation can really add up. It can also add a lot of extra time to your day, depending on transit schedules.
Find a Carpool: If you own a car, consider organizing a carpool with other students who live nearby. With carpooling, not only do you save money and get to take a break from driving, you also get to socialize with other students on the way to and home from classes.
Find Parking: “One of the biggest hurdles for students who drive to campus is finding convenient and affordable parking,” says Joel Ohman, CEO of CarInsuranceComparison.com, a company that helps students and others compare auto insurance online. “Spend time researching the safest and least expensive places to park on campus. Also investigate nearby off-campus parking.”
Bring Your Own Snacks: It is not always feasible to drive home for lunch or dinner every day, and buying meals if you are not on a school meal plan can get quite expensive. It is a good idea to bring along your own healthy snacks. Keep your car well stocked with treats like nuts, granola bars, bottled water, etc., so you’re fueled and hydrated — essential for staying productive at school.
Use Common Spaces: Instead of going home to take a nap and relax between classes, use one of the common spaces such as a lounge or rec center. You can use school showers in the gym to freshen up, and you can have your lunch or dinner at one of the common areas. Staying on campus as much as possible also helps you feel closer to the campus community.
Bring a Change of Clothes: If you plan on going to work or out for an evening after classes, it is a lot easier to change on campus than to go all the way home first. So, make sure that you keep a change of clothes in your car, in a friend’s dorm room, or other accessible place. That way, you’ll be prepared to leave directly from campus and save yourself a time-wasting trip home.
Get Involved: This is your chance to really get the most out of your college experience. Take advantage of your time between classes by getting involved in campus activities. Treat campus as your “home away from home” instead of always heading back to your apartment or house to recharge. Consider joining a club, attending a meeting, trying out for a team, etc. When you’re commuting, it takes a little more effort to integrate into the campus community. But it pays off in the long run. For tips on getting more involved on campus, check out Stanford’s “get involved” guide.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter.