Being a commuter student can be difficult, to say the least. Especially if you’re a first year student or live far from your campus. Commuting to and from school adds a lot of hassles to your routine that other students may not have, like dealing with traffic, finding a place to park, and driving in bad weather, not to mention walking everywhere and carting a bagful of books with you. It also makes it kind of hard to meet people and to feel like you fit in.
So what can you do? I started college way back when as a commuter student, I was a commuter with kids when I attented grad school, and I advised commuters a community college. So I just happen to have some suggestions.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Studies have shown that students who are involved in campus activities and feel a part of their institution are more likely to graduate. If you feel like you belong, you’re more likely to stick it out. Makes sense. So consider joining a group, club, or Greek organization. My first year of college, I became the Commuter Representative for my school’s Student Government Association. See what kinds of things you may be interested in. Maybe you could even get a job on campus. You’ll have a built-in network of people to interact with, and you’ll make a few bucks.
Structure Your Schedule for Socializing
I know, you’re probably thinking, “How can I join a club or get involved when I’m not on campus at all hours of the day?” It may not be easy for you to make it to meetings or events if you live far away from your school.
But you may be able to set up your class schedule in a way that makes it a bit easier. For example, maybe you can schedule a night class for the evenings when the sorority holds its meetings. This way, you’ll be on campus anyway. Stay late one night per week may be something that will work for your schedule.
I often advised my community college students to schedule blocks of free time between classes so that they had study time built in away from the obligations and distractions that may exist at home. This is also a good strategy to find some time in your day for socialization. Arrange to meet classmates for lunch or a study session during this time. Maybe it will lead to more hanging out and social opportunities.
Meet Other Commuters
Most schools now have resources and accomodations for commuter students. You’ll probably find a commuter lounge on your campus where you can meet others and spend time betwen classes. There are often times communication tools in place to keep commuters informed of campus events. Check with your college’s Office of Student Life or similar department.