Skyrocketing university housing costs have caused commuting college students to form a growing population within college campuses. Coupled with long commutes, studying and participating in extracurricular activities makes for an exhausting schedule. As a result, student commuters are impacted socially, academically, mentally, physically and professionally, not only by their responsibilities as commuters but also by their obligations as students. By planning class and commute schedules carefully, maximizing study time, cultivating a strong support system and considering the following seven tips, you can succeed as a college student both inside and outside the classroom.
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1. Follow a to-do list
Keep tasks SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused and Time-Bound) and prioritize those with earlier deadlines. Complete urgent tasks before important ones; surprisingly, they’re not the same. Review this to-do list after you wake up and before you go to bed. Doing so will increase your concentration and maintain productivity. The satisfaction of ticking off completed tasks at the end of each day will help you succeed as well.
2. Practice time management
Commuter students must balance both travel and schoolwork, rendering time management all the more essential to master. Invest in audiobooks, if possible, to learn material while sitting in traffic jams. Use your commuting time to finish homework or take a nap. Utilize apps such as Offtime that limit your screen time to prevent procrastination, and meditation apps such as Aura and Omvana to calm your thoughts and relax your mind.
3. Establish a budget
Expenses pile up quickly, especially for commuter students. Carpool with fellow commuters to reduce commuting costs and plan carefully to avoid traffic. Join local rideshare groups on Facebook and social media. Stick to a budget for all expenses, including fees associated with train tickets, bridge tolls, parking permits, car insurance/maintenance, groceries and other miscellaneous expenses. This will not only minimize costs but will also reduce stress, helping you make the most of your college experience.
4. Make study buddies
If you miss your train, catch the bus late, or get on the wrong BART train, it can be difficult or even impossible to reach class on time. Your study buddies will come in handy during these times to inform you of what you missed in class. Also, try finding fellow commuter students at your campus to foster a strong sense of community, as well as to share transit resources together. UC Berkeley, for example, has a commuter student organization known as Student Commuters at Cal. Check for similar clubs on your campus to ease your commute struggles.
5. Plan ahead
On exam days, leave your residence well in advance in order to arrive at campus early. Regardless of how punctual your train might usually be, there’s always the possibility of unexpected delays. Ideally, you should try to couch-surf the night before at a friend’s house or apartment near campus, if possible. If you’re driving yourself to campus, steer clear of rush hour. When making your class schedule, try manipulating your classes so they fall on a few, select days of the week. For example, you could schedule all your classes from Monday to Wednesday, leaving the rest of the week off. Planning your schedule like so can save time by preventing unnecessary visits to campus and maximizing productivity on your days off.
6. Know the ins and outs of local commutes
If you’re a student commuter, familiarizing yourself with local transit schedules, toll fees, parking permit paperwork and other similar logistics will be helpful in locating alternative routes when your regular commute methods don’t work out. Install transit apps such as Busit and iNextBus on your phone for 24/7 commuting information on the go.
7. Explore alternatives
If your daily commute is taking a toll on your health or academics, stop and consider different options, if possible. Try moving closer to campus to shorten your commute. If you usually drive, consider using public transport to avoid traffic. If all else fails, think about leasing an apartment near campus with roommates to reduce living costs — check out these tips from Course Hero if you do!