Top 8 Tips for College Commuter Students

14 Aug, 2014

College student studying.
hhgregg teamed up with Uloop to help you prepare for your life as a commuter student. Check out these helpful tips from Janey Dike to get started.

When the academic year begins, college students swarm the campus. Classes, clubs, sporting events and socials bring all types of students to campus, including commuters.

The opportunities available on college campuses make it easy to get involved. Commuter students, who won’t be living in resident halls, can still get heavily-involved in classes, clubs and organizations. These students need to have planning and organizational skills to make it to classes on time, unlike the average college student who rolls out of bed five minutes before lecture.

With the right tips to get acquainted as a first-year commuter, students can feel academically and socially fulfilled on their journey to a successful school year.

1) Be safe: Use a GPS, not your phone.

While you can use smartphones to look up directions, it’s not always safe to do so while driving. Commuters can mount a GPS on the windshield for hands-free directions.

Even if you memorize the route to your school after the first few days of driving back and forth, you may still want a navigation device in your car. It can be useful for finding alternative routes that avoid heavy traffic during your commute or for finding shops and convenience stores near your school.

2) Keep track of the time.

The added task of commuting can add an unpredictable amount of time to your morning routine. Make sure to leave enough time for traffic jams or unexpected car trouble so that you can make it to class right on schedule.

In order to leave with plenty of time for a stress-free commute, you’ll need to get up on time and get ready quickly. If you aren’t a morning person and can’t have a conversation before a cup of coffee, get an alarm clock that will force you to wake up and get out of bed with enough time to get that first cup of java.

3) Stay entertained during your ride to class.

If your commute to school is longer than you’d like, it can be difficult to prepare yourself for the journey to and from school. Long periods of time spent on the road and in traffic can be mentally exhausting, especially after a late night of studying and Netflix.

Fortunately, good music on a long car ride is the perfect form of entertainment. It can keep you more attentive and help you enjoy your usual route. Consider purchasing a port that allows you to hook up your iPod or phone and play music through your car stereo.

Purchasing a car charger is a good idea, too. You can play music in the car or use your phone in between classes and still be fully charged after your commute.

4) Protect your belongings.

The average college student probably can’t afford to replace lost or stolen belongings. Commuters have to leave their vehicles and belongings in a college parking lot all day, so it’s important to keep doors locked and bikes secured.

If you are driving a car to school, hide any valuable items that you won’t be carrying around with you under car seats or in compartments. Bicycles should be locked to bike racks, preferably with a sturdy “U”-shaped lock.

5) Take advantage of on-campus programs and activities.

Schools often have resources for commuter students. Keep an eye out for booths or fairs at the beginning of the school year with information about clubs and organizations that are available for commuter students.

Often, information sessions or breakfasts for commuter students are provided. For commuter students living in apartments or houses near the college campus, most schools also have some sort of “roommate finder” tool. Students can socialize with possible roommates online or at university-hosted mixers.

With so many organizations on campus reflecting a full spectrum of interests, it’s easy for all types of students to get involved. Whether that is through a part-time job, intramural sports, or a day trip to school for tailgating and the homecoming football game, commuter students will make friends and connections in no time.

6) Keep a few “emergency” items in your car.

Commuting to school means that everything you need for the day needs to be with you, not left in a closet or on the floor of your bedroom at home.

Being prepared for the day means being ready not only for classes, but for situations like weather and car trouble. It would be a good idea to keep a few things in your car, like a jacket, umbrella, jumper cables, and some extra cash. This will help you stay prepared in unexpected situations.

In addition, since the last thing you want is to get locked out of your car, keep a spare set of keys with you at all times. You should keep the spare in something that you wouldn’t leave in your car, such as a purse or wallet.

7) Use breaks between classes wisely.

While the ideal schedule for commuters would be back-to-back classes with a short lunch break, it can be hard to get every class time that you want. Most students will probably end up with a couple of hours to kill.

Since commuters can’t head back to their dorm between classes, some good places to get schoolwork done are the libraries, lounge areas and computer labs inside of the academic buildings. The more schoolwork you can get done during the day, the less that needs to be done after the drive back home.

8) Create an efficient study space with the right gear.

Commuter students need an appropriate study space to come home to after a long day of lecture classes.

While libraries and lounges are accessible during the day, commuter students should have a place at home to work for all of the late-night study sessions the semester will bring.

A clean desk and the right school supplies will make study time a breeze for any student. A laptop that can be carried from home to class will help you with notes, research and term papers.

Take a look at hhregg’s back-to-school checklist, which includes a sturdy backpack to keep all of your notebooks, pencils and electronics on hand at any point during the day.

With the right information and the right resources, commuter students will have no trouble at all getting acclimated to their school. The necessary school supplies, the college’s commuter programs, and involvement on campus will all help students have a more than successful academic and social year.

Refer to these commuter student tips before the first day of classes to ensure a smooth-sailing and rewarding first week.

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