Life As A Commuter Student

Commuter students tend to look like every other college kid. We go to class, watch Netflix in a friend’s dorm, pull all-nighters, and go to Casey’s a bit too much. But unlike our fellow classmates, we go home at the end of the day. Read on to discover life as a commuter student, as described by me in eleven different sections, in no particular order.

1. Find the Commuter Lounge

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I spend more time than I care to admit in the Commuter Lounge at Siena. It’s located in the Sarazen Student Union, across from the mailboxes and the post office. There’s a full fridge and freezer, a microwave, computers and a printer. There are even lockers to store your essentials and extra clothes/money/snacks. It only costs $5 to rent a locker, and $5 more if you choose to rent a lock. And the best part? It’s only a deposit, so you get your money back at the end of the spring semester. Yay!

2. You Will Have Car Trouble

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It’s inevitable: your car will break down on the highway or run out of gas the day of a unit test. Or you could be me and leave your headlights on overnight, causing your battery to die. I bought a gas card to save money - I use Cumberland Farms, but I know plenty of people use Advantage Edge or Hess. Put jumper cables in your trunk, and make sure you have the numbers of multiple towing companies. You’ll thank me.

3. Tell Your Professors You Commute

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Most students at Siena live on campus. Your professors won’t know you’re commuting unless you tell them - the sooner, the better. I told mine the first day of school and it’s helped me quite a bit. Chances are, they will be more than willing to help you when you can’t make it to class. 

4. Be Prepared for Bad Weather

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Upstate New York is notorious for its heavy rains and endless snowstorms. And since most students live on campus at Siena, classes aren’t typically canceled. In my town, dense fog is the worst kind of bad weather. I tend to leave a full hour earlier on those days. My commute is an hour - can you imagine how early I’m up? So if your commute is twenty minutes, and there’s thunder and lightning outside, give yourself double the travel time. And store extra everything in your car/locker in case of an emergency. 

5. Stash a blanket and pillow at a friend’s dorm

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Chances are you will have to spend the night at one point or another. Ask your friends if you can crash at their place after a late night game, meeting, studying, etc. A futon is better than sleeping in your car, right? But always, always, always inform the RA. You don’t want your friends getting in trouble. 

6. Remember that phone charger

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This should be a no-brainer, but the amount of times I’ve forgotten my phone charger is insane. There’s nothing worse than your phone dying during a few minutes of relaxation.

Solution: Invest in a new one that never leaves your backpack, and buy one for your car as well.

7. Snag a Few Extra Minutes in the Morning

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We’ve all stood in front of our closets and thought, "I have nothing to wear."  To make your morning a little less stressful:

1. Devote five minutes every night to creating your look for the next day, and put it on a hanger/chair for the morning.

2. Prepare your breakfast/lunch/dinner once you’ve finished your homework. Pour the cereal in the bowl, chop up vegetables for a salad, or shove snacks in a lunch bag.

The morning won’t feel so rushed. You might even be able to hit the snooze button.

8. Utilize that planner

There are never too many ways to stay organized. A planner not only keeps you on track with assignments, but keeps you up to date with doctor’s appointments, your work schedule, practice times, meetings with professors, etc. If you don’t want to buy your own, Siena provides a planner for students. You can pick one up in Siena Hall, Room 215.

9. Find Your Niche and Get Involved

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College isn’t just about getting your degree - it’s about finding yourself. Pick up a new hobby like running, journaling or even knitting. Chances are, there’s a club for every interest on campus. They’re fun, inclusive, and give you something to look forward to. Don't be the person who goes home once classes are over. Who knows? Maybe your club will become your family.

10. And lastly: time Management, time management, time management

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Us commuter students don’t have the luxury of rolling out of bed and going to class, or going to the library at the end of a long day to study. Personally, I have to get on I-87 before rush hour starts.

Websites like Quizlet have become my friends (think virtual flashcards.) I can whip out my phone and study for a few minutes in between classes, and not have to worry about making up flashcards. If you don’t want to think too much, watch a Crash Course or a Ted Talk. It makes you feel like you’re studying.

It’s not easy being a commuter student, but at the end of the day, I can sleep in my own bed and not worry about a fire alarm being pulled while I’m in the shower. How many college students can say that?

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