Making the Most of College as a Commuter

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Going to college is typically a very exciting and nerve-wracking experience.

I was concerned about going to college because of commuting. I didn’t know if I would be able to make friends, enjoy campus life, or even find a parking spot in the morning.

Making friends was initially very difficult since I wasn’t living in the dorms and my only opportunity to talk to people was in class.

I felt like I was missing out on a key part of the college experience by living at home, despite the fact that I was able to save thousands of dollars.

I am a senior now and I’ve been commuting since my freshman year. In my years of being a commuter, I learned that giving yourself a reason to come to campus outside of class time makes the college experience so much more worthwhile.

Since I’ve been a commuter for a few years, I wanted to share some of the ways I made the most out of my time at San Jose State University without living on campus. 

  1. Join clubs

Joining clubs on campus is a great way to make new friends and bond over a shared purpose.

Clubs can help students meet people who have similar interests to them and give commuters a reason to drive to campus for something other than class. Being in a club can open you to opportunities that you may not have gotten without those connections.

There will never be a shortage of people for you to meet and the students you meet in clubs could end up becoming some of your closest friends.

I’m involved in two student clubs and I can 100% say that those organizations transformed my college experience for the better. I would have missed out on meeting so many amazing people, gaining leadership experience, and getting to pursue my passions. 

  1. Take advantage of school facilities 

Something that I wish I had done more during my freshman year took advantage of the school facilities. Part of the tuition covers the utilization of school facilities, so you might as well reap the benefits!

Taking time out of the school day to go to the gym, study at the library with classmates, or eat at the restaurants on campus will make commuting to school more worthwhile.

Using in-person tutoring or advising can also be beneficial to academic success as well.

Even though commuters may not live on campus, they can still take advantage of the resources their college offers.

  1. Do something fun on the days you have class 

On the days that I have class, I usually try to plan something that I can look forward to so that I’m not just driving to campus for the school.

Some ideas are to get food with friends, go to the pool on campus, or attend a sporting event!

On the days when I get to do something besides go to class, I enjoy my time on campus a lot more while making fun memories with my friends.

Going to campus on days when I don’t have any classes is also fun because I can just enjoy being in college and take advantage of everything around me. 

  1. Make early mornings more enjoyable 

The worst part about commuting to school is the early mornings, especially if you aren’t a morning person like me.

It is always a struggle to find a parking spot for my morning classes, so I have to make sure I get to campus pretty early.

Making the commute can be more bearable if you give yourself something to look forward to.

You can try a new coffee shop, make something new for breakfast, or pick out an outfit that makes you excited for school!

My personal favorite way to make the mornings more pleasant is to make a fun, upbeat playlist for the drive to campus.

Listening to happy music helps me get into a better mindset and puts me in a good mood to start the day. 

  1. Do your best to make friends in classes

Making friends in my classes made coming to campus a lot easier. Approaching people in lecture classes can be difficult because there aren’t as many opportunities for one-on-one conversations with peers, but simply asking someone for their number for homework help can lead to a new friendship or study buddy!

Classroom friends can help you with homework, be someone for you to study with, and someone for you to hang out with. I ended up meeting so many people in my major this way, and I would end up having classes with them again in the future which was so helpful! 

Even though four years seems like a super long time, college flies by. Commuting can definitely be a hassle, but it’s important to still do everything possible to make college an unforgettable experience.

Being involved within your campus, aside from being a student, makes college so much more enjoyable!

Being a commuter taught me that you don’t have to live on campus to have an incredible time at college, and I hope that these tips help make commuting more convenient!

Let us know @HerCampusSJSU if you’re a commuter!





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