Essential Tips for Freshmen Commuters

Oh joy, the first week of school arrived! For freshmen, that means your anxiety is high and you just hope you walk into the right classroom. As a commuter myself, I’ve learned a thing or two about commuting to school. So here’s my handy-dandy list of essentials for you freshies.

  1. 1. Always, Always Arrive Early

    Boy, my first day of school had me in a full sweat, and not just because it was a hot outside, but because I thought 15 minutes was enough time to park and get to a 11:25 class on time. Boy, was I wrong. I park allthe way across campus, had 4 minutes to get from a parking spot that wasn’t a parking spot by the baseball field (and praying not to get a parking ticket) to Siena Hall. I had made it with a minute to spare, but I practically ran across campus with at 20 pound backpack flopping all over the place. 

    So, take my advice. 15 MINUTES IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO PARK AFTER 9 A.M. My advice, leave with a good amount of time to search for a parking spot. I usually pull up to the parking lot which anywhere between 30-60 minutes to spare, depending on the time of day.

  2. 2. Pay Attention to Parking Lot Patterns 

    Trust me, you’ll learn this pretty easily. And to make it easier for us Siena commuters, 8-9 a.m. is super easy to park anywhere you want. 9-12:30, don’t even bother to look in the good parking lots, unless you feel really lucky. 12:30-1:30 can sometimes be really easy to park or really hard. Any time after 2, you have a chance in the good parking lots. At 5 p.m., park wherever you want, it’s free game after 5, even in faculty parking. 

  3. 3. Teachers Will Park in Student Parking…And There’s Nothing You Can Do About it

    It’s a fact of life. You pay $90 a year for a parking spot and teachers park in it, despite yellow spots being open. It’s annoying, but Public Safety will roll on by. 

    With that in mind, they oversell the parking lots. Since not every commuter is on campus all the time, they oversell it. If you come during a busy time, Roger Bacon and behind the lacrosse field is your best guess. It’s a hike, but at least it’s not at $25 parking ticket. 

  4. 4. Keep Money On You Always

    The day you forget your lunch on a long day, will be the day you feel defeated. The dining hall can cost anywhere between $6 to $12 for Saga and TBD at Casey’s. Unless you wanna pay delivery fees or give up your good ass parking spot, you’ll want some cash or a debit/credit card on you at all times. 

    Plus, emergency food/gas money can never go wrong!

  5. 5. Don’t Get Coffee on Campus…I REPEAT: DO NOT GET COFFEE ON CAMPUS!

    Unless you want to pay twice the price at the campus Starbucks for a cup of Joe where they don’t even bother stirring everything together, save yourself the few bucks and go off campus. Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons are naturally cheaper than Starbucks (I prefer Dunkin in general), but even Starbuck is cheaper than Starbucks

  6. 6. Snacks…Snacks…Snacks

    You can’t go wrong with snacks. You never know when that pang of hunger will eat, so keep some small, portable food on you. Most teachers are super cool about letting you eat in class (as long as it’s not a science lab or contains computers). 

  7. 7. Depending on the Semester, The Commuter Meal Plan Will Be Worth it!

    If you’re there alllllll day long, invest in the cheap meal plan. At Siena you get 20 meal swipes (that always transfers your unused ones from Fall to Spring semester) and some Bonus Bucks. Invest it in, I regret not investing it some semesters.

  8. 8. If You’re Struggling, Get Help Early

    It takes some time to get a tutor assigned to you, so don’t try to tough it out. If you notice the struggle creeping up on you, talk to your teacher or advisor about getting a tutor. 

  9. 9. If Your Advisor Sucks, GET A NEW ONE!!!

    This is so important. My freshmen year, my advisor literally told me she “didn’t know how to help me.” Um, what? If they can’t help you or refuse to help you, Get. Out. Of. There. Now. You can apply online for a change in advisors and even suggest who you want. I luckily got a new advisor my Sophomore year, and thank god I did! Don’t do everything on your own!!! That’s what your advisor is there for! They are there to help you make sure you’ll graduate on time, advise your through major changes, and class schedules, and career/mental/emotional support! MAKE SURE YOU GET THAT EXPERIENCE. You paid for it! Get the most out of your advisor!!!

  10. 10. Bond With Your Other Commuters

    No one wants to tell you this, but I will. IT’S A LOT HARDER TO MAKE FRIENDS AS A COMMUTER STUDENT THAN AS A RESIDENT STUDENT. My freshmen year, the commuters students I met during orientation used to hang out between class in the SSU. We use to call ourselves “The Commuter Group,” and that first semester, they were a big help navigating a new world with people who understood what you were going through.

  11. 11. With That, Don’t Be Afraid to Call Out Your Teachers When They Act Like Every Student is Available at Night

    Sooooo many teachers want you or require you to attend events at night for credit. They seem to forget that us commuters tend to have jobs or live far away to attend them. They forget you exist, they really do, but don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Usually, they’ll have another assignment for you do. 

  12. 12. Make Friends With Resident Students

    Sometimes you just want a bed to lay in, instead of the couch or your car. 

  13. 13. Remember, IT’S YOUR CAMPUS TOO!

    Resident students might make you feel like it isn’t your campus because you come and go, but it is! You might feel like school is a job and just another place you have to go too, but attend events, hang out on campus, join clubs. Just because you don’t live there, doesn’t mean you aren’t allow to be there. It’s your campus, make it feel like home too.

  14. 14. The Most Important Year for Your GPA is Freshmen Year

    A lot of people think they donk around freshmen year, but really it’s important to get good grades your freshmen year. It’s sets the baseline for your grades. If you start out in the hole, it’s hard to get out of it, but if you start out above ground, the hole won’t be so big. So definitely try your hardest!

And lastly, freshmen, enjoy your first year. It’s the only year you won’t stress about adding to your resume and finding internships. Take the time to enjoy life, and make new friends, and join activities and clubs. It’s a whole new world, take it in stride. 

And hopefully these tips will help a little!