105 The Dos and Don’ts of Commuter Life

Summer Marcum

Staying on campus isn’t always an option for students, there are a lot of factors that may go into whether the dorm life is the best option for them. It is not as easy as some think to come up with the money needed just to attend one semester; room and board fees, application fees, tuition, meal plans, books, classroom supplies, etc. All those things add up quickly, and thousands of dollars for room and board isn’t necessarily a priority to everyone when it comes to what they need to attend their College or University. However, there may be times where it is required for a student to stay on campus. Reasons being that room and board is required for first year students at that college, a student may want to stay on campus no matter the cost to get the full college experience, or the student is miles away from their hometown and has no other options. There are many reasons one might decide to stay on campus, but there are just as many for why a student may decide to commute.

For example, I am a commuting student. Deciding to commute instead of stay on campus was a no brainer for me, not just because it was too expensive, but because the University I attend is in my hometown, I live within the radius to allow me to stay off campus, and living on my own with my significant other was more affordable than the almost ten thousand dollar room

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and board fee for the highly unpleasant dorm rooms. My situation may sound a lot like yours or it may not, but I chose to do what was best for me as all other students should do when making this lifechanging decision. I could not be happier with the decision I made, and I hope other students feel the same. Although I chose to commute, there are still some obstacles I face that students who live on campus do not.

For my first-year class end of the year project, we were assigned to make an imprint in the student survival guide for future students. We were given categories to choose from and were told that we would need to write an article, make a PowerPoint, or submit a video based upon the category we chose. I chose the category Commuter Life, and I am going to be mentioning a few Do’s and Don’ts of commuting. As we go through our first year; we learn, we fail, we succeed, and we are accepting that this year is going to be our toughest. By aiding future students in this new journey, it will make them a lot more comfortable and help adapt to this big change.

As a commuter, I have learned firsthand some helpful Do’s and Don’ts that I believe will give future students a better understanding of what it’s like to commute every day. The first Do of the commuter life is DO invest in a planner. At the beginning of the semester, I purchased a planner. I wrote every assignment that was available as well as class activities and campus events, and as the semester went on, I kept track of what assignments needed to be done that week and I was able to stay very organized with my work and activities. A planner was the easiest way for me to keep up with everything I needed, and I would highly recommend one (Organizing). The second Do of the commuter life is DO stay involved with campus activities. As a commuter it is hard to drive back and forth to classes all day, and then come back in the evening for a campus event. In my opinion, driving back and forth everyday takes a toll, by the

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end of the day I am tired and don’t typically feel like going back to campus for the evening events, but my advice is to do it anyway. By remaining social, it helps with perception of your health, loneliness, and general life satisfaction (Maria). The third and final Do of the commuter life is DO leave earlier than originally anticipated, this takes into account possible traffic or lack thereof parking. I quickly learned that I needed to leave earlier to allow myself forty minutes to get to my classes and find parking, when I only live 15-20 minutes away, especially for early morning classes. The university I attend doesn’t necessarily have the best parking available, making it difficult to find decent parking in a reasonable amount of time.

Now that the Dos of the commuter life are out of the way, here are some helpful Don’ts to live by while experiencing what it’s like to commute. The first Don’t is DON’T treat your classes like a 9-5. If you commute, and you only go to campus for classes every day, it will start to feel like more of a job than a college experience (Smith). Go out and have fun on campus, don’t just go for your classes then go home. College is meant to be fun, not feel like a job! The second Don’t of the commuter life is DON’T get behind in classes. This don’t sounds easier than it is, but trust me, it isn’t fun being behind. It’s easy to say “I’ll do that later” or “I have plenty of time” when you have mostly online assignments, but they tend to pile up quickly as new assignments are added before you’ve completed the old ones that you chose to procrastinate. It is best to either get them over with early, so you have some time to rest, or keep track of your assignments and turn them in on time. The last Don’t of the commuter like is DON’T feel left out. This don’t may not sound like you, or you think you won’t feel this way, but trust me, you will. It is hard as a commuting student to feel involved in campus events when you aren’t there for anything other than your classes. As a commuter, you find out a lot on your own; you find

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out when events are, what’s going on, and other campus related news. It doesn’t have to be that way, though, there are plenty of resources that can help you stay involved on campus. A couple examples of helpful resources include your teachers, advisors, other students, and even bulletin boards around campus. If you want to stay involved, I recommend keeping in touch with all of your resources and looking out for flyers with information about future campus events on them so you can plan ahead of time.

In conclusion, I hope my few Do’s and Don’ts help even just one future student. Your first year of college is hard no matter what you do, especially as a commuter. There are so many things you are going to have to adjust to, but just remember that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Being a commuter isn’t at all a bad thing, there is just more work to be put in as a student who doesn’t live on campus. If you decide to commute, remember that your college experience is all up to you. If you decide not to go to events or skip some classes, no one will give you sympathy when it was your choice. College is supposed to be fun whether you are a campus resident or a commuter, don’t allow your choice of being a commuter to dampen your college experience.

 Works Cited

“6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being A Commuter Student.” Thought Catalog, 19 June 2014, https://thoughtcatalog.com/sarah-rodden/2014/06/6-things-i-wish-id-known-about-being-a-commuter-student/.

Maria Cohut, Ph.D. “Socialization: How Does It Benefit Mental and Physical Health?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321019.php#1.

“Organizing Schoolwork & Assignments (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by D’Arcy Lyness, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Nov. 2017, kidshealth.org/en/teens/focused.html.

Smith, Rachel. “8 Do’s and Don’ts for Freshman Commuters.” 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Freshman Commuters -, 24 Oct. 2017, blogs.gcc.edu/insider/2017/10/27/8-dos-donts-freshman-commuters/.


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The Survival Guide to the University of Pikeville by Summer Marcum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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