Being a commuter student can be tough. Here are some helpful tips from a senior who has spent over 200 hours in a car over three years just going to and from BU.
As a commuter, you should know your route. For some, it’s only a five-minute drive, for others, it could be upwards of an hour. Learn exactly how long it takes you to arrive at BU, and make sure you leave time for accidents or construction along the way. Also, learn when to get to the parking lot. There are never enough spaces in the commuter lots when you so desperately need them. Being five minutes earlier or later can mean the difference between finding a spot and driving around the lot for 20 minutes.
Visit Campus BEFORE Classes Start
Since commuters don’t live on campus, or in some cases, anywhere near campus, commuter students should take some time to get to know the surroundings. Make sure you know where your classes will be. It might sound cliché, but go find your classrooms BEFORE the first day of classes! You don’t want to be the person walking into syllabus day 10 minutes late and drenched in sweat.
Also, a tip for finding classrooms: Most buildings have simple room numbers, such as 250 (second floor, room 50). However, there are some more complicated buildings. McCormick Center for Human Services, or MCHS, has room numbers with four digits such as 2303 (this would be the second floor, third section, room three). Some other abbreviations would be G – for ground floor, or B – for basement level. No maps exist of the insides of the buildings (believe me, I’ve searched for them) but don’t be afraid to ask someone in the hall, or wander around for a while. You’ll learn eventually.
A lot of commuter students don’t get involved in activities at BU because of the time constraints of commuting added on top of school and (possibly) a job. It can also be discouraging because many of the activities take place at night, after commuters have gone home. However, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! There are so many organizations to get involved with, and some of them might fit your schedule! Think about joining clubs related to your major, your minor or other things you might be interested in. Talk to your adviser about clubs within your discipline, and communicate with people around campus to get involved in other clubs.
Learn to Schedule for YOU
Even if you have a declared major and an adviser assigned to you, take advantage of the Academic Advisement Center in SSC. The staff in the office are very friendly and will give you resources on how to build your own schedule, while still meeting all requirements. Being a commuter student can be frustrating if classes are spaced awkwardly throughout the day. Learning how to build your own schedule can be tough, as there are many requirements that each major (and minor) must meet. However, it beats sitting in the library for five hours a day!
The Commuter Lounge
Many of my classmates from high school commuted to BU, at least for the first few years of college. We learned early on that there is a commuter lounge in the bottom level of the Warren Student Services Center where commuters have their own space to hang out between classes. It has comfortable couches and chairs, tables, a coffee pot, and a microfridge. It’s located across from the PSECU office…take advantage of it! The lounge was made for you.
Figure Out Your Meals
Budgeting in college can be hard, ask anyone! The hard part about being a commuter is that if you’re on campus for lunch, you probably don’t have a meal plan, and paying cash for lunch on campus can get very expensive. It can also be tough to bring your own lunch because you don’t know where to store it or heat it up. The third option would be to leave campus and grab lunch at a restaurant or fast food joint, but that can also turn pricey, fast. However, these are about the only options available.
This might sound silly, but I invested in a PackIt lunchbox for my sophomore year. It has a built in icepack, and is small enough to fit in my backpack. I can make myself a sandwich or throw some leftovers in it and heat it up in the microwave in the commuter lounge. It saves me a ton of money!
Most importantly, just because commuters don’t necessarily have “The College Experience” that everyone dreams of, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make friends. Put yourself out there and don’t just come for classes and leave. College is a social experience that some commuters don’t fully take advantage of, but they should. It’s another cliché, but the friends you make in college will likely be your best friends for life.