Being a commuter makes you feel like you're the "othered" clique of the college. It personally made me feel as though I wasn't living college to its fullest potential since I lacked the dorm life experience. But just because you don't have a dorm to go to does not mean you shouldn't utilize your college to the best of your abilities. Here is a guide to living your best college commuter life!
Just because you're a commuter does NOT mean you can't be involved
Last year, I held myself back from so many opportunities just because I had to take the train back home. I kept using "I commute" as an excuse to get back home a few hours early. Simultaneously, I was getting so upset that I wasn't involved in anything and wasn't making new friends like everyone else was. I was putting myself in a catch 22 and only hurting myself by doing so. Joining clubs and being involved made me gain close friends instantly and I am sure it will for you too! Don't let commuting be the reason you don't put yourself out there because you never know what impact you can have on your college without actually trying.
If you are interested in getting involved here at Rutgers check out getinvolved.rutgers.edu and look up any clubs that interest you! Join RCSA for an inclusive little family of commuters just like you and enjoy the college experience you deserve! And of course join any clubs that the university has to offer, with the hundreds of clubs here at Rutgers I am sure you will find something perfect for you!
Don't be shy!
Something I always thought was that since I am a commuter I won't be able to be good friends with residents on campus. But always remember that being a commuter doesn't mean everyone's discriminating you for existing. I know when I came into college I personally turned myself into a hermit crab just because I wasn't living the same college experience as everyone else. But you'll be surprised to find out that you really are not missing out on much. Put yourself out there because you never know who you may become best friends with if you don't try!
Make study groups
My entire first year at college I spent alone trying to figure things out without speaking to that many people. But that is where I went wrong. Towards the end of my first year, I started making study groups and interacting with the people around me in my classes. This allows us to bond and to learn at the same time which in the end was a lot of fun. Study groups are beneficial in many ways and are a good start to make some great friends!
Don't use commuting as a scapegoat!
Have you ever used the excuse..."Sorry I can't, I commute"?
I know I definitely have. And certain circumstances it has been used for the better, but in many situations, I wish I went to the things I missed out on. I commute by train so matching train times and scheduling everything accordingly is tiring, but definitely not impossible. Stop using commuting as a scapegoat from social interactions and use it to your advantage. Maintain a social life at college that you know you need as well as balancing out commuting and your academic career. Using commuting as an excuse to live your best life at college is only going to hurt you in the end.
Take advantage of commuter resources
Rutgers has many commuter amenities that I didn't even know existed when I first started college. For example, there are two lounges on campus where commuters can go and relax. But it is not only a place of comfort, it also has utilities such as a fridge and a microwave for students to use. There are also lockers on campus where commuter students can store their belongings if they're carrying a lot of items during the day. All of these resources are available free of use for commuter students and should definitely be utilized! Don't be afraid to stop by the commuter lounges because I am sure someone there will welcome you in without hesitation.
Commuting should not define your college experience. The only person in charge of making these four years amazing is you and just because you drive here or take the train or bus doesn't make you any different! I hope these tips will help you love your college experience as a commuter!