It’s 10:45. The parking lot is full and there are no spots open. There are 5 cars all driving around the same lot, stalking another commuter to their car, waiting for them to leave. It’s every man for themselves. I find someone about to get into their car, keys in hand and I quickly race the rest of the people to the spot. I get there first, but someone else takes the spot anyway. Another person is pulling out. I quickly drive up behind them and flip on my turn signal. After 10 minutes of driving around, I finally found a spot.
I get out of my car and start on the path to campus. Class doesn’t start for another hour or so, but if I didn’t get here early there would be nowhere to park. I have time to kill, so I go to the top floor of Sykes to do sit down and do some school work.
Welcome to the life of a commuter.
Being a commuter isn’t exactly easy. Yes, it has its perks: I don’t have to pay for housing and I don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot on the streets in town. Also, I don’t have to deal with crazy roommates.
But there are downsides to commuting. The parking at this school is horrendous. There really aren’t that many places to go and hang out to do your school work. You also have to drive to town every time you want to do something.
With 4 years of commuting experience, I decided to share some tips with you on how to make the best of being a commuter.
#1 – Find friends who will let you hang out with them during your long breaks
I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. If you have friends who have on or off campus housing, ask them if it’s okay to come hang at their place. Having a house to go to relax is so much better than sitting on campus alone, waiting for class to begin.
#2 – Get to campus early to make sure you get a parking spot
Everyone who teaches and commutes at this school knows that parking is a joke. Parking on campus is very limited and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The only thing that makes this easier is getting to campus early so that you have extra time to find a spot. I usually come 45 minutes to an hour early. That way, I know if something goes wrong, I have more than enough time to fix it.
#3 – If you can’t leave campus, find a quiet place to sit and hang out.
As a commuter, I know that there are times where you can’t leave campus because you have a meeting or you don’t want to lose your parking spot. If you find yourself “stuck” here, find yourself a place to sit and hang out for a while. There is a student commuter lounge in Sykes that you can go to, but there are also some other locations you can go. The library is always a good place for you to sit down and do some homework in your free time.
#4 – Try to schedule classes one after the other, or all in one day
It may sound overwhelming, but one of the best things I have done is schedule classes one after the other. I decided that I’d rather get all my classes done in a few hours. I like to leave campus at a decent time. It was a little tough to sit through class for 5 hours straight. But, I didn’t have to come to campus two days a week. If that seems like too much, you can always leave sometime between a few of them, so you can give yourself a little break.
#5 – Find other people who are commuters, too.
There are more commuters on this campus than you’d think. A lot of commuters tend to hang out the same areas, or are looking for something to do during a break. If you know anyone who also commutes, spend some time with them. It can get boring sitting in the library for hours on end with nothing to do.
#6 – Get involved.
The campus is full of activities, sports, clubs, etc. Getting involved is a good way to meet people and get to know your school. As a commuter, I found that doing activities on campus helps make me feel like part of the school. It’s hard to be a part of things when you live so far from campus, so joining a club gives you a reason, other than class, to come to campus.
Being a commuter isn’t the most exciting way to be a college student, but overall, it has its perks. It can save you some cash and you don’t have to be stuck on campus all the time. As a four-year college commuter, I would say it’s worth it.