While there is a convenience to living on campus, there is also something to living off-campus. The space, the ability to cook your own meals, not having to share a room with others, not using a communal bathroom; I could go on. Of course, there are some things to consider when living off-campus. Whether you live five minutes away or have a thirty-minute drive, here are some tips and tricks for being a commuter student.
Time Your Commute
As a commuter student, know how long it takes to get to class. Take the time before classes start to clock from your apartment or house to campus. It’s also important to do this at the time of day your class starts. Campuses and cities have a rhythm. If you don’t want to be late to class, you need to find that rhythm.
Bring Your Lunch
It may be that you have the time to go home between classes to eat. If so, that is a stroke of good fortune (and some good planning). But sometimes, you don’t have much of a choice. If you want to keep your extra costs low, bring your lunch to work or class so you don’t have to buy food while on campus. You can also invest in meal passes for your campus dining halls if you know you will be on campus for lunch.
One of the best things to do if you live on campus is to limit how often you have to go back and forth. If you live farther from campus, it is advantageous to schedule your classes on only two or three days of the week to decrease the costs of gas and parking. Keep in mind that scheduling classes as such can make homework and studying rough at some times. Having multiple assignments due on the same day all year requires good time management. It might also be beneficial if you work on campus to schedule your workdays to coincide with the days you are in class.
Find the Right Parking Pass
Depending on the size of your campus, there might be multiple parking lots or garages for commuter students. It’s important to look at your campus map to see where these lots are in relation to the buildings you need to get to. If your school has a campus bus service that runs out to the lots farther away, then track those routes and time schedules.
Check Out City Transportation
If your campus is within the city, it is possible the city transportation (bus routes, subways, etc.) can take you there. A bus pass for a year might be worth the investment if it means you don’t have to pay for gas and a parking pass. Pay attention to the routes that run close by your apartment and what can take you to campus. Also, keep track of those time schedules; you don’t want to get stuck on campus because the buses stop running at seven.
Bring Your Bike
As a commuter student, bringing a bike might be beneficial (depending on how far from campus you are). It’s faster than walking to class, and you don’t have to worry about paying for parking or gas. If you do choose a bike as your mode of transportation, make sure you look up any bike laws your state or city might have. Find the safest route between where you are living and class, and give yourself extra time. Those two or three miles from campus are daunting to walk, but biking is more manageable.
Get a Sturdy Backpack
If you are scheduling so that your classes are on the same day, you’ll want to invest in a good backpack. It needs to be able to hold your books and fit you comfortably. It also helps if you keep your books and supplies organized; you don’t want to have to run back home because you forgot your paper for class.
Interested in seeing the housing situations at the colleges you’re interested in? Check out the “Campus Life” tab of any of our college pages!