How to Deal with Living Off-Campus: 10 Tips for College Commuter Students

Your college years should be full of new adventures, experiences, and friendships. Although a large number of students choose to live on-campus, there are several who decide to commute instead. If your a commuter student, you may feel as though you aren’t getting the entire college experience, which is why I created this list!

1. Join an Organization

Being involved in an organization that interests you is the easiest way to bridge the gap between living off-campus and establishing a social life. An activities fair is usually held within the first few weeks of the school year, so contact your school’s student affairs office to find out when and where the fair will be. When you get to the fair, explore all your options and sign up for the organizations that interest you most. Just remember to leave enough time for school work!

2. Start a Study Group

Since you live off-campus, you don’t have access to the library 24 hours a day like those students who live in the dorms. To make sure you are staying on top of your studying, start a study group with some classmates from your courses. Set up a time to meet every week so that you are accountable for your work and will get it done. Not only will you finish your homework, but you can also build up some great friendships this way.

3. Use the Recreation Center

Several college campuses offer free memberships to the school’s recreation center when you are a student, so take advantage of the equipment and classes that are offered. By exercising, you are keeping your body and mind healthy so that you can be successful in school, and you can have fun while doing it. If sports are your thing, check out the intramural sports that are available and join a team. There are different sports and competitions offered during the school year, so ask for a schedule and join in the fun!

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4. Get a Job

Since you are commuting, paying for gas and transportation may be a concern for you. In order to cover these expenses without taking out extra loans for school, consider getting a part-time job or an on-campus work study position. Not only will you be earning some extra cash, but you will also be gaining real world experience which is extremely valuable when you are looking for an entry-level position after your education is completed.

5. Schedule Your Classes Close Together

Instead of driving back and forth between classes or waiting for hours for the next class to start, try scheduling your classes next to each other. Commuter college students can save time and money by doing this, which leaves room for a part-time job and provides a more consistent schedule. If you prefer not to be on campus every day, try scheduling your classes for just three or four days a week so that you can have an extra day at home.

6. Attend Sporting Events

Staying involved at your school keeps you active in the student community and allows you to meet new faces. Being a part of the college experience involves several factors, and college sports tend to be a big part of the student life at most colleges and universities. You should have access to all the sports schedules on your school’s website.

7. Consider Getting a Dining Plan

If you plan on spending quite a bit of time on-campus, consider purchasing a commuter dining plan so that you don’t have to live off of fast food. Most schools have a cafeteria that serves food buffet-style, so you can eat as much as you want. The great thing about commuter dining plans is that they are less money because you live off-campus, so you won’t have to worry about wasting money on food. There are usually a few options to choose from, so ask your school’s dining services what plans are available for commuter students.

8. Use Public Transportation

If you don’t want to worry about parking or paying for gas, consider using the city bus system. More and more schools are beginning to form relationships with the local public transportation services, so students are able to get discounted or free bus passes for the entire time they are enrolled at the school. Check with your school to see if this option is available to you.

9. Attend Social Gatherings on Campus

The student life department plans events practically every day of the school year, so take the time to attend some of these gatherings. These get-togethers could be anything from movie nights to video game competitions, so there is something for everyone to do. If you have friends that live on-campus, you may also be able to attend some of the activities that take place in the residence halls.

10. Attend Every Class

One of the most common problems college commuter students have is getting to class, especially on time. Since you live away from campus, you need to factor in the distance from the school, travel time, weather, traffic, and parking. All of these factors can be a recipe for disaster, so commuter students need to plan out their schedules accordingly. Missing one class can be detrimental to your grade, especially if the professor gave an important presentation, so attendance is crucial to being successful in college. In order to make sure you get to class on time, give yourself extra time to before every class. It’s better to be early than late!

I hope these tips help you keep a social life while also allowing you to stay within a budget!

Remember, college is what you make it, so enjoy every moment and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that become available to you!

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