Surviving the commute


Kelly Hueckman / Advance-Titan — Commuters need to consider travel time and scheduling options for classes.

Kelly Hueckman, Opinion Editor

Finally, with vaccine rates going up and masks becoming less common, we can have this “real college experience” people talk about.

Ah, yes, the college experience: naps between classes, a disposable amount of potential friends and just a short walk to pretty much anywhere you need to go. 

This might be the case for some students who live on or near campus, but as the commute to school increases, college starts to look a little different for commuters. 

Instead, commuters can expect waking up hours before their first class, blows to their social lives and fighting for a parking spot. 

Although commuters can save thousands while opting out of residential housing, it can be hard for students to stay motivated and have a positive attitude toward their education. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to postsecondary researcher Laura J. Horn, 85% of college students are considered commuting students.

Despite the statistics, the commuter life is a lonely one, so it’s essential to be prepared. 

To help ease the burden, follow these tips to survive the commute.

Make your mornings

Some students’ commutes to school can be upwards of 30, 60 or more minutes, making time spent on campus much more precious. 

Unfortunately, this usually requires an earlier morning than fellow residential students. 

But getting to school doesn’t have to be the most dreaded part of your day. 

To combat the resentment toward the commute, mix up your mornings with something you look forward to, whether it’s a filling breakfast, a yoga routine or your favorite podcast. For me, it’s coffee and a perfectly curated playlist. 

Stack your classes

Not only do commuters need to account for travel time, they should also look into scheduling options that allow them to stack classes within as few days as possible.

There are few things that feel as wasteful as driving an hour round trip for only a single, hour-long class.

Stacking classes not only saves time and gas, but it allows for a more flexible schedule outside of school. This is perfect for commuters with responsibilities at work, home or a job site.

Manage time on campus

Consequently, long days on campus can be exhausting, but are also the most critical for time management. 

While it may be tempting to hide away in your car for the awkward time between classes, this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of campus resources while doing school work.

Save yourself the drive to the library, office hours or computer lab and your future self will thank you.

Join the fun

On top of meticulously planning your day, getting involved in the social scene on campus may look different for commuting students.

Making friends with people when it seems like they’ve known each other for years (aka, since move-in day) is intimidating.

I swear, it’s possible; it just requires little extra effort.

Instead of having the luxury of befriending your roommate or the sophomore down the hall, commuters should expect to make most of their connections through extracurricular activities.

This is the perfect time to explore your interests by joining a club or organization, especially those pertaining to your major. 

Going to the first meeting doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, but it may be beneficial to your academic, professional and even social experience. 

Getting involved in campus organizations can open the door to brushing up on organizational skills, networking and even internship or job opportunities. Possible friends are just an added bonus.

Although the commuter life isn’t the easiest to navigate, taking advantage of your time and putting yourself out there can transform your time at your university. 

So, make the drive worth it and get the most out of your college experience.