Photo: Adelin Preda on Unsplash
For those who are just starting college, it can be a big change to adapt to new surroundings. While some are getting ready to move in to their dorms and leave their home for the first time in eighteen years, some have the pleasure of just commuting back and forth to their school for classes. And if you’re feeling all sorts of emotions and nerves leading up to the big day, there’s no need to worry. Here are some helpful tips for commuters to make the school year go smoothly.
Get to school early
Yes, the last thing you want to do is set your alarm a little earlier to make sure you have enough time to get to school. But with the nonstop traffic affecting your commute, it’ll end up saving you a lot of stress. Being late on your first day of class is not a good way to start the semester.
Have a reliable vehicle
This one probably speaks for itself. But if you’re commuting back and forth to school and not accustomed to using a lot of miles on your car to begin with, it might be time to invest in a new one or get it checked out before classes start. That way you can make sure your car won’t break down on the highway or end up having other issues or problems that went unchecked.
Check emails before each class
There is nothing worse than driving all the way up to school to realize class is cancelled. Even if the idea of pulling out your computer or phone to scroll through your school’s email can be tedious, it’ll end up saving you a lot of time and gas.
Pack a lunch
Maybe the meal plan doesn’t apply to you, and if you’re lucky you know people who live on campus who can give you a guest pass for those days where you’re starving and can’t wait until your next class or when you get home. But instead of going to a drive through, why not just pack a quick lunch in the morning before leaving for school? It might take an extra five minutes away from being able to sleep, but your stomach will thank you later.
Take advantage of breaks
Got a two hour or even 30 minute break, and you don’t know how to spend that time? Maybe you’re not able to leave campus because your next class is too soon, or if it’s too long you want to leave campus or do something but you don’t know what. Taking a nap in your car is always one thing, but maybe you can take advantage of it more by exploring your campus and seeing certain spots or areas where you can get work done.
Maybe you were someone who was always doing something in high school, like sports or after school activities and clubs. Now that you’re commuting, you find it hard to get involved since you’re not living on campus. That’s not the case—by joining a club or sport you’re able to be more involved and not feel like you’re coming to school just for class, but have something to look forward to when you’re there.
Participate in on-campus activities/events
It seems like almost every week there’s something going on, whether it be an event or something happening at night on campus. It can feel weird thinking you’re the only commuter going to these kind of events since they’re on campus. But they’re geared toward anyone who goes to the school, no matter if they live there or not. So don’t be afraid to go to an event they’re putting on, everyone is welcome.
Use campus resources
This goes back to taking advantage of your time when you have a break. There are many places on campus besides the inside of your car you can utilize. Places such as the library and dining hall are great places to get work done. Also, for lots of college libraries, not only are they good places to focus and work, but there are also often special resources in place to help with research or other work you have.
Make friends with other residents, as well as commuters
The fact of the matter is this: you’re not going to be able to make friends if all you’re doing is going to classes and then leaving right after they’re done. It’s scary to walk into a new place knowing nobody, and maybe those few people you do know aren’t in your classes and are hard to hang out with because your schedules don’t match up. Relying on people you know can be a good start because maybe some of those friends live on campus and can introduce you to the people they live with. But only sticking with them and not learning to branch out on your own is not going to help you in the long run. So, talk to the person next to you in class, and when you get into groups for projects, make time to introduce yourself and get to know them. You never know the people you might meet if you’re not willing to put yourself out there.
There you have it. I hope these tips were helpful to any commuters starting or returning to school this year. Have a great school year, and don’t forget these tips when you’re feeling nervous.
Kirstie Devine is 24 years old and is working towards her MFA in creative writing at Western New England University. She is most likely writing, reading a book, at a concert, laughing, petting a dog, or eating french fries. She hopes one day to write a book and have it be in the library in her town.