Welcome to the Chatham sisterhood, future Cougar! Every week this summer, look for new advice from Chatham women who can't wait to see you on campus.
Have a question you hope we'll answer or a topic you'd like us to cover? Email Campus Correspondent Mara Flanagan (email@example.com)!
The Topic: Commuting
Year: 2nd Year Grad Student
Master of Professional Writing
How do I meet people before school starts?
You may not have a roommate's name popping up in your inbox, but you can still take advantage of summer events to find new friends. “Attend Chatham’s Open Houses and Student Orientation,” suggests Laura Jackson. Though some events are mandatory, others get lost in the whirlwind of college prep; don’t miss them! Connecting with people before school starts means you’ll know people on campus before you take your seat on the first day.
If you don't get a chance to connect with people in person, Chatham Chatter is a fabulous way to network. Chatham's own social media site lets you find future classmates in a pinch; if you haven't already, you'll probably get an invite by email soon. You can also check out the unofficial Class of 2016 Facebook group.
If I have a car, how do I make sure I get a good parking spot?
You’ll never regret parking on campus: the upfront cost of a permit will most likely cost you less in the long-run than feeding meters. Plus, the prime spots near the classroom buildings are definitely ideal when wintry weather sets in. You may receive an email with instructions for getting a permit, but you can always find more information on the Chatham website. Act as fast as you can; parking is limited on campus, and you'll want to secure a space early.
I don't have a car. How do I get to campus?
Many Cougars don’t hop in the driver’s seat in the morning. “If you live close to campus, walk if it is within walking distance,” advises Lejla. Not only will you work in your daily exercise, but you’ll also be doing the environment a favor. Can’t go on foot? “Learn the subway and the buses!” suggests Laura. “Especially since Chatham gives us free ridership (with our student I.D.s).” PortAuthority even has a Trip Planner: plug in your starting and ending destination, the date, and the time you want to leave, and Port Authority will map out the route for you. As Laura notes, “no parking and no gas” will leave plenty of cash in your wallet.
Of course, you can always “try catching a ride with someone,” says Lejla. Offer to chip in for gas, and you might be able to find a carpool buddy.
Another good option? Cycling. Don’t count out a bike: you’ll be able to park it on campus without buying permits, and you can even get repairs at Chatham’s own Bike Shop. If you’re not used to cycling the city, no worries—Chatham’s Bike Collective is putting together a bicycle commuting workshop for early September (stay tuned for more details).
I'm worried I'll be late to class. How can I cut the stress?
Road construction. Dead ends. Long stoplights. No matter how ready you are for the daily commute, you’ll almost certainly run into pitfalls along the way. Minimize your chances of running late by taking a trial run one or two times before the start of classes. Better yet, test out a few different methods of getting to campus (you may figure out that bicycling doesn’t take as long as you thought or that you’re early morning walk is actually more of a climb). Test out the routes at the times, and on the days, you’ll most likely be making the trip in the Fall. You’ll get a sense for traffic patterns, terrain changes and surprise derailments that you’d rather not discover on your first day.
When everyone is going back to the dorms for a midafternoon nap or quick study sesh, what do I do in between classes?
Pick a home base. Just because you’re not living on campus doesn’t mean you can’t have your own space. While students have to pay for a locker in the AFC, commuters can get a free locker rental in the Carriage House. Contact Student Affairs as early as possible to make sure there’s one available, then bring your own lock and secure your own little piece of campus.
Of course, having a locker isn’t quite the same as having a dorm room. Though it can be difficult to get complete privacy on campus as a commuter, the library does offer individual study rooms. Though you can’t reserve a room, it’s easy to stop by the circulation desk and request a key. You’ll get four hours of total privacy (eight if there are enough rooms to go around), complete with an electric outlet, internet access, and the ability to bring in a snack and drink. Sure, there’s no place to stretch out for an afternoon nap, but it is great if you'd like a place to study and just need some time to focus.
How do I make friends outside of class?
“Make sure you get involved with campus activities so that you can have the opportunity to meet a lot of new interesting people,” suggests Lejla. Both Lejla and Laura are adamant: joining a student organization is a great way to make the most of your time on campus. You'll meet people who share your interests, but you'll also have a set time every week to hang out with them. College students are always running around; conversing with people at a club meeting allows for more than small talk. You’ll meet a ton of organization reps at the Student Activities Fair you’ll attend during orientation. Make sure to stop by every booth: not only is there a ton of free stuff, but you never know what might interest you.You can be sure that every organization there is looking for members (Her Campus Chatham is always thrilled to welcome new Cougars to the team).
Another tip? “Attend as many on-campus events as you can!” says Laura. Her Campus Chatham posts listings throughout the year, and the Happenings section on myChatham features more lectures, workshops and intramurals you won’t want to miss. Student Activities runs a full slate of commuter get-togethers throughout the year. Bonus? They often feature freebies: noodles, cake, even meal tickets to Anderson. It’s a chance to meet other commuters and connect with Mr. Ruben Henao (firstname.lastname@example.org), your touchpoint on campus as a commuter.
I still feel out-of-the-loop. What do I do?
No matter how involved you are, it can be easy to feel a little left out when the girls in your class are bonding over inside jokes conceived over a late-night pizza delivery. The key is to meet your friends where they are. “Stay up-to-date with your classmates through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn),” says Laura. Staying tuned into the internet (without being glued to it) makes it easier to figure out what’s happening on campus even when you’re not around.
Another tip? Don't rush home after your class or your meeting. Take a seat on the first floor of the library to do your homework. Curl up with a copy of Moby Dick in Café Rachel. Stop by Anderson or the Weathervane and chow down. Campus eateries are centers of social interaction; even if you’re planning to spend a wildly small amount of time on Woodland Road, grab a Pepsi or Smiley Cookie every once in a while. To make sure you’re getting the most for your money, go for Cougar Dollars instead of cash. Buy $50 worth to start: not only will you get an extra $5 worth of food, but you’ll be able to pay for meals with your I.D. and have all of your bucks roll over for every year you’re a student.
“Just because you don't live on campus, that doesn't mean you can't have the full college experience like everyone else,” says Lejla. “Everything depends on how involved you choose to be.”
So whether you’re coming to campus by scooter, bus or jetpack, you'll find your place here.
Third Photo: Laura Jackson and her mother at Kentuck Knob; photo taken by Patricia Coyle, the Director of Marketing at Kentuck Knob