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The Life of a Commuter Student

To the incoming first-year and transfer students, welcome to the Panther family! For returning students, welcome back! 

The summer has now come to an end as we enter the 2018-2019 school year. That means it’s time to buckle down and crack open the books some of us anticipated and for others . . . dread. Some of you may have moved in on campus, as for the rest of us we are deciding what time to set our alarm clocks to begin our morning commute. 

If you want to save yourself some time in the morning and maybe even get some extra sleep, pick out your clothes the night before. Some people may have an easier time getting ready, but if you try on multiple outfits before picking one . . . this tip is for you! No shame in your game, but if you want to be proactive give it a shot. Another game changer is the weather. Rain can easily add an extra 20 minutes to your commute. Checking the weather before you go to bed can help you plan accordingly.

When commuting, you always have to be prepared for the unexpected. Always have an umbrella in your car in case the weather decides to throw you a curve ball. Most importantly, always keep a pair of jumper cables in your trunk. Cars are unpredictable and you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a car emergency without the basics.

Being on campus for half of your day – if not all day – takes a bit of preparation if you want to be well-equipped. First things first, what are you going to carry all of your belongings in? Are you anti-book bag and prefer a purse/tote bag? If you are worried about style, either one can be fashionable. 

When looking for a quality book bag, some key features to keep in mind are: compartments, support, and size. If you plan on having your laptop, books, and writing utensils, you want to make sure your things are secure and easy to find. Depending on how much you tend to bring with you for a day on-campus, make sure your bag can alleviate any potential back pain because of the weight. If you intend to have your entire life in your bag, consider a larger size with supportive straps to accommodate everything you plan on carrying.

Inside every bag is unique depending on the person; however, there are some mandatory items that NEED to be in your bag as a commuter. A phone charger is a non-negotiable. Do not bet on a full battery to last you an entire day on-campus. The same goes for your laptop. Although you may grab a bite to eat in between classes or on your way home, always pack a snack or two. Sometimes you may be in a rush to leave and you won’t get a chance to eat breakfast, or you may have to stay later than you expected. The last thing you want to do is spend more money than you need to on food. 

If you don’t feel like carrying a bag around from class to class or you have things you need to store while you are on campus, GSU has lockers available to rent in Langdale Hall, Student Center East, Student Center West, and Urban Life. Depending on where your classes are you can choose the building that is most convenient for you. Lockers are $20 per locker for the semester. Students who are first time renters must purchase a lock for $10, but that lock can be used in the future for returning renters. Locks must be picked up at the Student Center Office of Administration located in Student Center East, room 310. 

The recreation center also has lockers available to rent for students who intend to utilize that resource. If you want to end your day with a workout or you’re looking to kill time instead of sitting in traffic during rush hour, the gym is a perfect place to be. Locker rentals begin on the first day of classes. Full lockers are $25 per semester. If you don’t need that much space or want a cheaper option, half lockers are $12 and third lockers are $8 per semester. 

Whether you get to it or not always bring your work. It could be a paper you have to work on or a chapter you have to read, there is always something you could be doing. If you have time between classes or before you head home, you don’t want to spend your time doing nothing when you could free up some time for yourself later.

A common misconception is that commuters don’t get to reap the benefits of campus involvement. If it’s something that you are interested in all it takes is a little extra planning of your schedule to allow yourself to join some of the many different organizations on GSU’s campus. A number of organizations hold their activities later in the evening, so if you schedule your classes earlier in the day that could grant you time to be present for general body meetings and events. If your schedule starts to become an issue that doesn’t mean you have to cancel your involvement all together, all you have to do is communicate and let someone know about your situation.

Being a commuter has its pros and cons, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Nonetheless, you are on your way to getting that degree you wake up  everyday for. The most important thing any commuter can do is plan. Planning accordingly will either allow you to be early, on time, or late. Which one you will be is entirely up to you.

Have a great semester Panthers! 

All images provided by Georgia State University and GIPHY.com

Sierra Jenkins is currently a student at Georgia State University studying journalism and African American studies. Jenkins aspires to enlighten and inform others through her writing. She believes it is important to have conversations and create dialogue around topics that aren't always discussed publicly. Jenkins strives to break societal barriers through her use of words and set an example for other women from all walks of life.
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