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How to Survive Freshman Year as a Commuter

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCNJ chapter.

As a current sophomore commuter, I am happy to report that it does get easier. There are so many amazing experiences available to freshmen who commute. That being said, maintaining on-campus responsibilities while living elsewhere can get complicated. Here are some tips I wish I had before starting freshman year as a commuter:

Get involved On campus, but set boundaries

Joining organizations on campus is one of the most fulfilling parts of college as it allows you to form bonds and pursue activities you are passionate about. Despite this, it is important to remember that being a commuter can make certain activities less realistic, and it is more than okay to not do everything. During my freshman year, I tried joining as many clubs and attending as many events as possible, which led to a massive burnout. To prevent this from happening, I recommend finding two or three organizations that truly excite you and accommodate a commuter lifestyle. This makes it much easier to dedicate your attention entirely to these groups rather than stretching your time too thin with little benefit. 

Make your car a comfortable space that you look forward to being in

When I first started commuting, I dreaded returning to my car at the end of the day. It felt like such a disconnect from the experience of my friends living on campus. I fell into the trap of romanticizing life in the dorms and feeling insecure about not having a “typical” college experience. Since then, I have learned to love having my own space to come back to at the end of the day. Some changes that helped me foster a more positive environment included: playing music I love and calling a friend or family member to help pass the time. Although these suggestions may seem small, adding a little extra comfort and care to mundane tasks can make all the difference.

Don’t hesitate to reach out

Socializing for commuters is truly what you make of it, and friends will undoubtedly come your way through a number of different avenues. As I discussed earlier, joining a few organizations that spark your interest will make it much easier to meet new groups of people. I also enjoy making the most of my time on campus by using little tasks as an excuse to invite friends along. If you chat with someone who sits next to you in class, ask them if they would like to get coffee and study sometime. If you have a friend in a club that you are in, ask if they want to get dinner together once in a while. Making connections can be intimidating, but they are incredibly worthwhile to have. 

Last, but not least, remember to be patient, proactive, and most importantly, kind to yourself! Don’t be too hard on yourself if things are not going exactly how you planned, it may take some time, but eventually, the pieces will fall into place.

Nicole is a sophomore Communication Studies major specializing in Digital Filmmaking and Television.