10 Struggles College Commuters Know Very Well
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10 Struggles College Commuters Know Very Well

Why commuting to college isn't the walk in the park some people assume it is.

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10 Struggles College Commuters Know Very Well
PBS

Commuting to college is a struggle, and these are some of the things you just need to deal with.

1. Waking up earlier than everyone else.

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If you commute to college, one thing is certain: you will be waking up one to two hours earlier than all of your friends living on campus. You get up and check the weather on your phone, because you’ve got to be prepared for the day. There is no taking the short walk to your room to grab an umbrella or a jacket. No, you have to come prepared for every weather event possible.

Then, of course, there is the dilemma of what time you really need to leave. Sure, you could leave 45 minutes early just in case of traffic, a flat tire, etc., or you could get the extra ten minutes of sleep you think you need but could totally do without. So, while all of your friends are rolling out of bed at 7:30 to make it to their 8 a.m. class, you’ve already been up an hour and you’re on the road by then. Your timing has to be perfect.

2. There's nowhere to park once you get to school.

My college is notorious for never having a parking spot open when I get to school. My earliest class begins at 9:25, I’m on campus by 9:10, yet there is never a spot open. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll catch someone leaving and snag their spot, but even then I’m almost late to class after spending half of my time circling the parking lot. Finding a parking spot takes an act of Congress and a drop of blood it seems.


3. Commuting is expensive.

I go to college the next city over, so it never occurred to me while I was filling out the application to live at home that I would have to fill up on gas at least once a week. Sometimes more. I live about twenty miles from my school, so that’s approximately forty miles a day just getting on and off the interstate. That doesn’t include the drive to my actual house, or all the gas I burn driving around looking for a parking spot every day.

My little Nissan Altima is pretty good on gas I’d say, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that forty miles a day, sometimes more, is a lot of gas. And then you have to add in oil changes every 3,000 miles and the fact that the commuter meal plan at my college is only $50. I’ve had to go add money twice. . . what can I say? I love coffee and the fries in the cafeteria.


4. That moment when you realize you've left a necessity at home.

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Like your phone charger. Or headphones. Or your textbook, notebook, or laptop. Usually leaving something at home hits me as soon as I’m about to get into the turning lane for the interstate. So then commuters have to decide: do I go to school and face the day without what I left, or do I turn around and risk being late for class?

5. Driving on the interstate.

Now, some commuters may be extremely lucky and are able to avoid the interstate on their way to school. I envy you. I take the interstate to and home from school, and it is awful. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the interstate for the most part. It’s a straight line and it’s fast.

But people cannot drive.

I say this at least twice a week it seems. There is always someone on the interstate going 60 in a 75 (usually a transfer truck trying to pass another transfer truck and ultimately failing) while I’m trying to get to school. Or, my personal favorite, when a driver in the left lane and a driver in the right lane are going the exact same speed. That’s what angers me the most. It defeats the purpose of two lanes and it makes everyone else on the road angry, too. No one wins here.

6. You have no motivation to come back for late night activities on campus.

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I would love to be that college student that comes to all of the club meetings, all of the campus activities and sporting events. But I can’t. Driving back and forth once a day is enough. There’s no way I’m getting home from class at 4:30 then turning around and leaving an hour later to make it to a 6:30 sporting event. Once I’m home, I don’t want to leave, especially to go back to school. Which kind of leads to the next point

7. It's harder to make friends.

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Commuting to college is pretty great for the most part, but I’d say the hardest part is not being able to easily make friends. It’s easy to feel left out, because the kids who live on campus see the commuters for a few hours a day and then they’re gone. Commuter’s days consist of waking up, driving to class, finding somewhere to eat, going back to class, and then driving back home.

Living off campus makes it difficult to make it to campus events that happen later in the day or on the weekends. There are opportunities to make friends in class, sure, but you don’t get to join all the clubs everyone’s talking about, you don’t get to hang out with everyone at events on campus, you don’t get to become friends with your roommate and the girls on your hall because, for me, the girl on my hall is my sister and we’re already tight. And this also makes it more difficult to work together on group projects since you live so far away.

8. Where do you go when you're tired.

I tend to take a nap in my car at least once a week. Yet another con of commuting is when you have a break, you can’t go home because then you’ve got to turn around and come right back. It would be so counterproductive. You haven’t made enough friends to crash in their dorm for an hour, and sure, the library has couches but they’re really not that comfortable and the idea of sleeping in public creeps me out.

So I slide my seat back as far as it will go, lock my doors (you don’t know what kind of weirdos you might go to school with) and sleep for a good hour. But be sure to have an alarm set to wake up for your next class or it’s going to be really awkward stumbling into your next class half asleep and mumbling to your professor that you overslept in your car.

9. When your professor cancels class and you didn't get the e-mail.

Now, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’ve heard many people I know talk about driving all the way to class, only to get here and find out class has been canceled and you drove all this way for nothing.

10. Making your schedule.

When I was at freshman orientation I worked with a girl a few years older than me to get what I consider a pretty amazing schedule. I don’t start until 2:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I don’t have class at all on Fridays. Which means my Tuesdays and Thursdays are packed, but that’s okay. It’s the price I pay for having a three-day weekend every week.

When you commute you do your best to make your schedule as helpful for you as possible. Sometimes that means starting later than everyone else since the drive to school takes so much time and effort. I knew there was no way I could handle an 8 a.m. class, so I opted out of that right away. And not having class one day out of the week helps on gas, too. And my mental state.


So, yes, commuting to college is rough at the beginning. But it gets better. I’m almost two months into college, half of my refund check has gone to gas money, but it’s really not that bad. And making friends is harder but not impossible.

Commuting saves money in the long run, because you aren’t having to pay for housing and that ridiculous meal plan no one will ever use up. And you don’t run the risk of not liking you roommate. I enjoy still living at home, but that’s just me. I’d rather drive forty miles a day to and from school instead of living with immense college debt.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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