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Commuting to College: A Guide

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Congratulations on choosing to forego leisure walks to class and late movie nights with dorm-mates, and commuting to college instead. It is no small feat to venture into the real world by getting off-campus housing or living with your families. As a college freshman who has spent the wild years of high school sheltering-in-place at home without substantial social interactions, it sure has been disappointing to not be able to spend time with people my age. After experiencing in-person classes for the Fall 2021 quarter, I have learned a few things that all commuter students should take note of.

If you drive to college, it is paramount that you try to avoid peak traffic. According to Santa Clara University’s website, students may receive an exemption from living in dorms if they live within 30 miles of campus. This could translate into spending a solid hour on the road in each direction if you are unlucky enough to begin your commute at rush hour. Instead, check travel times on Google Maps at different times of the day and arrange your schedule accordingly. You can even start tracking now in time for class registrations for the Spring 2022 quarter. I recommend that you plan to arrive on campus early and plow through the dreaded 8:00 am class. In this case, the early bird really does get the worm because you don’t end up at a standstill on the road. Similarly, for the return trip, I suggest heading back before 4:30 or after 6:30, which seems to be the times with most traffic from my travels in my car. I suggest you use this time to attend club meetings and catch up with friends. Or even better, go to your professors’ office hours and get to know them. Who knows, they might come in handy for those grad school recommendations!

If possible, look for alternate ways of commuting to school. Check your local public transportation websites to see if they have ongoing buses or trains during your travel times. The VTA, BART, Caltrain, Amtrak, and ACE are popular among SCU students, so start your search with these in mind. Use your time productively and finish your homework or listen to class recordings (trust me, it helps!). You can also post on the SCU group chats on Facebook and Pronto to ask if others are interested in carpooling with you. Offer to split the cost of gas for the trips and you may just find yourself with a carpool karaoke jam partner! Be sure to check out SCU’s website for carpool permits if you plan to go that route (no pun intended) and save hundreds of dollars in transportation a year.

Regardless of if you are a first-time commuter student or are returning to campus as a day scholar, you have taken up the added responsibility of traveling back and forth. It is undeniably challenging after facing a global pandemic to adapt to in-person learning. Remember that you can always befriend commuter students at the Commuter Student Union and check out the commuter socials on campus if you want to find another student on the same boat—oops sorry, car! Until then, go Broncos.

I am a freshman at Santa Clara University studying Biology with an interest in Computer Science and Bioinformatics. I am an avid social issue advocate and recently completed my high school capstone project and research paper on the Lack of Access to Healthcare in Schools in collaboration with a non-profit organization.
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