College Life: Commuting

Hey Guys!

I’m sure this is a post that can be for anybody.  Not just those who are incoming freshmen who decided that living on the campus wasn’t for them, but also those like myself who are in Graduate school and driving back and forth.  Hopefully your drives are shorter than mine (an hour and a half… one way), but either way I’ve got some tips for you to make your life that little bit easier.

Being a commuter to college (or university) isn’t all that strange anymore.  Though some colleges and universities try and say that freshmen have to live on campus you can work your way around that.  Most non-traditional students are also commuters.  By non-traditional, I mean those who are older than the usual incoming freshmen or even transfer students.


The first thing that I would suggest that you do is take a look at how long it’s going to take you to drive to campus and then schedule your classes around that.  For example, if it’s going to take you over an hour to drive to campus then having a 7 or 8 am class is probably going to not only drive you crazy but also isn’t the best idea.  But if you schedule your class for 11 am instead that gives you time in the morning to get up, eat breakfast, and even do a morning workout if you want before having to leave campus.

I would caution you on scheduling long breaks in between your classes for the day.  If you have one class at 11 and your next one isn’t until 3 or 4 it could get kind of tedious.  However, if that is your only option then try and use the time wisely by studying during these breaks and doing the homework assignments that just got assigned during your previous class.  New to the campus?  Having breaks in between classes gives a time to go exploring for those hidden spots that you can use to study in. (or to find the Starbucks!)  This could also be great time to eat lunch whether by yourself or with friends.

Not sure what to do during these long breaks, do what I do.  Power up your laptop and watch a few episodes of your favorite show on Netflix, Hulu or Vudu.  Believe me when I tell you that it’s not going to matter if you’re sitting all by yourself at a table.  Trust me when I say that we’ve all been there, and I’m still there on some days.

Get Out There

Speaking of those long breaks that you end up with.  Remember that this is the time in your life when it’s OK to go up to somebody and introduce yourself (just don’t be that person that stares constantly!)  Make friends in your classes, talk to a stranger, put yourself out there.  What’s the worst that could happen? them telling you to go away.  That’s OK too, but at least you tried.

You could also use those breaks to join a club or two or even a fitness class (those tend to be free on campus!)   This will help you feel a little more connected to the happenings on your campus.  In the two different school that I went to one of things that I loved to do was go to the events that were happening on campus.  Check them out when your school has them.

Prepare for Everything

A big thing to remember when you’re commuting is that unless you live in the same city and close to campus, then you can’t just run home when you need something or if something happens.  So when you’re living the commuter life your vehicle becomes your second home.  I’ve learned that keeping a bag in the car for emergencies is a good habit to have.  Mine also doubles as a gym bag so that’s a plus.  Stay tuned for my “What’s in my Gym Bag” post to see what it is exactly that I keep in there.

Keep a Budget

While commuting back and forth to school is cheaper than living on campus, it can get expensive when you add up all the things that you are buying during the week.

  • Gas
  • Food
  • School supplies
  • Starbucks….

But by setting out a budget for yourself you should be able to keep it all under control.  One way that you can control your spending is buy bringing your own food with you.  Whether that’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, if you bring it with you then that’s money that you’re not spending.  Especially if your school is anything like mine with an outrageously priced dining hall ($10 to get in even if you only get an apple!) or an eating area in the University center that has fast food options and healthy options but is still usually ridiculously overpriced.  I also bring a reusable cup (my yeti) that I fill with ice and water throughout the day this way I’m not having to buy water during the day.  If you want to really get into it you can plan your meals and do a weekly prep so all you have to do is grab and go.  There are so many ideas for this on Pintrest!

One thing that I can say is my weakness is Starbucks.  I’ve been known to get 2 or 3 a day if I’m able to.  Though I’ve found a way to fund my coffee habit, I’ll be doing a post soon on that so stay tuned.  If you are just as addicted to coffee as I am, then try making you some before you leave that way you’ll already have some caffeine in you and it won’t be too bad.  This way if you still end up buying you your latte or frappe it won’t be as much because you already had some.  (if you really like Starbucks then I recommend asking for gift cards during gift giving holidays)

Instead of having to run out and buy something if you find that you need it, keeping a box of school supplies in your trunk would help.  During the semester I have a box in the trunk that i use to hold my school books, extra reams of paper (because I’m in a group that lets you print for free if you bring your own paper), pens, folders, notebooks, etc. This way I’ll always have it in case I forget something.

The last thing that I recommend doing is more of a tip than anything else.  I’ve learned the hard way that driving 75 miles and hour (which is the speed limit in Texas) wastes a ton of gas.  Most days I’ll drive between 65 & 70 depending on if I’m in a hurry or not and I don’t have to fill up as much as I used to.  Also making sure your car is in good condition will help, like having tires that are good and not worn, aired up to where they are supposed to, and making sure that you have done a tune up (have you changed your spark plugs and air filter, as well as had an oil change) like you are supposed to will also increase your mileage.

Bonus Tip

Ask around campus, or in your home town and find out if there are any other people traveling to the same school.  If ya’ll can get along then see if you can carpool together.  This way it’s not just one of you putting in the gas and mileage on one single car.  Switching them up helps, say they provide the gas and you provide the vehicle for one trip then the next time it switches.


Question of the day: Do you have any tips for people who commute back and forth to campus?  What is your favorite memories of school?  Comment down below.

Until Next Time!



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