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Aug 18 2016
by Uzma Jamil

A Commuter Student's Guide To The Full College Experience

By Uzma Jamil - Aug 18 2016
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As commuter students, it's not as simple as running back to your dorm to grab a snack or taking a nap in between your classes. I know people who commute as little as ten minutes to some who commute over an hour just to get to school; regardless of how long it may take to get on campus, it is inevitable that some commuter students feel like they're missing out from the full college experience that comes along with living on campus. As a fellow commuter, I know how that feels. Through both my experiences and what others have told me about commuter life, I've decided to make a guide for other commuter students so they can get the college experience while not living on campus.

1. Double check everything.

As commuter students, we don't have the luxury of going back to the dorm to grab something we forgot or to take a nap. Every night, make sure you have everything you need to in your bookbag and double check in the morning. The worst feeling in the world is getting to campus and realizing you forgot your paper on the printer.

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2. Plan smart.

If possible, plan your classes to be back to back and to your liking. If you aren't a morning person, don't schedule your classes in the morning to avoid the possibility you sleep in instead of going to class. If you prefer to be done with your day by two pm, take your classes in the morning. Also, invest in a planner! Planners are so important so you are on track with everything you need to do and by when. Don't know why you should invest in a planner? Check out this article.

3. Keep a survival kit in your car.

This is so incredibly important for commuter students to do. Your survival kit should have a spare change of clothes in case you get rained on or you drop your Starbucks coffee on yourself, a bunch of snacks instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on the vending machines, a blanket and pillow if you need to take a nap between classes. Doing this will be a life saver.

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4. Make friends with people that do live on campus.

At my school, there is a program where every freshman commuter student is paired with a residential student. Similar to a mentoring program, both students would serve as a support system for each other and hang out occasionally. If your school doesn't have a program like this, don't worry! If you have friends who live on campus, you will always have that security blanket if you're bored in between your classes or you need to room to nap in for a few hours. Also, having a friend on campus will keep you in the loop in regards to any campus events going on.

5. And make friends with fellow commuter students.

Whether or not you join the commuter student organization at your school, having friends who go through what you do is nice and encouraging. If you ever feel trapped or tired of commuter life, you can rely on these people to encourage you to push through.

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6. Join clubs.

By joining clubs and organizations on campus, you aren't limiting yourself to the cycle of going to class, the library and then home. These clubs will allow you to have something to look forward to and introduce you to several of your friends. Joining organizations will also allow you to be more cognizant of what is going on around campus.

7. Take advantage of every opportunity you can.

Just because you don't live on campus doesn't mean you can't use the facilities your school offers. Make sure to hit up the gym, go to the tutoring sessions and everything in between. You are paying for these services so be sure to take advantage of it.

Skeeze via Pixabay

8. Consider traffic, weather and the time it may take to find parking.

As commuter students, it is important to be cognizant of the problems that come along with commuter life. Always factor in traffic, the weather and parking; your professor won't care about your complaints about traffic if you are late. In case of any accidents on your main route to school, know an alternate so you aren't late. Also, familiarize yourself with all of the parking spaces available on campus so you don't spend an hour looking for parking.

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9. Have breaks in between classes? Don't waste them.

It is inevitable that you'll have a long break in between your classes at least one semester of your college career – don't waste them. Whether you go to the library to get a head start on your essays or you get a workout in, take advantage of your free time instead of wasting it. Keep yourself busy and active. 

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10. Get a part-time job on campus.

Through a part-time job on campus, you'll not only be surrounded by more of your peers but you will also be getting money. It's a win-win!

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11. Go to sporting events.

As a basketball fanatic, I'm so incredibly excited for the season to start and to join the student section to scream as loud as humanly possible. Sporting events are a great place to meet new people and truly enjoy college. Regardless of if you scream as loud as me or not, make it a point to attend the sports events at your school.

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12. Treat the campus as if you actually lived there.

While it may be tempting to go home right after your last class of the day, avoid that. Treat the campus as your home away from home and explore it. Find your favorite spots to study, go to events your school hosts and enjoy being a college student. 

13. Stay positive.

Life will throw you a lot of curveballs and you just have to be positive. There will be days you'll be late and days where you want to do anything but drive to campus; however, always remember college is what you make it so push through. I promise you that the hardest part is getting there and it'll be worth it when you step on campus ready to conquer a new day.

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While commuter life isn't ideal, it's perfect for me and several other students. Blast up the music on your next commute to school and best of luck!

Lead Image Credit: tookapic via Pixbay

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Uzma Jamil - Nova Southeastern University

Uzma Jamil is a freshman at Nova Southeastern University majoring in Political Science. She also has her own personal blog, ujthoughts.wordpress.com and loves reading more than anything in this world.

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