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Tips & Tricks for College Commuting


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Have you ever been late to class? I know I have, especially since I commute. When most people talk about college life, commuter students are often overlooked. Of course, it does depend on your campus – some have more commuters than others. But many students that regularly live on campus even commute from time to time. If you commute, you know that it can often be difficult. From unexpected traffic to that one extra hit of the snooze button, so many things can make you late for class!

Whether you travel by bus, car, bike, or some other way, use these tips and tricks to make your commute easier.

Plan Ahead

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  • We all know that picking an outfit can take forever. If you lay out your clothes the night before, you don’t have to worry about figuring things out in a rush. Be sure to check the weather, too!
  • You’re likely to forget planning ahead from time to time, in which case, creating a backup outfit is extremely beneficial. Have at least two go-to ensembles in mind for those busy mornings.
  • Forgot a backup outfit? Create a fast and easy outfit using our tips.
  • Get your books and other things ready in your bag the night before to prevent that last-minute panic when you’re in a time crunch.
  • Always keep your supplies and books in the same places in order to prevent confusion.
  • You can even put your bag and keys together by the door.

Wake Up on Time

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  • Learn how to time your sleep! Generally, sleep cycles are about 90 minutes long, and include stages of lighter and deeper sleep. Using a tool like bedtime calculator can help you figure out the best time to hit the sheets to wake up refreshed, not groggy.
  • If you’re a deep sleeper like me, it takes a lot to wake you up. If so, it’s extremely helpful to set multiple alarms.
  • If you still have problems getting out of bed, consider buying an alarm that would force you out of bed, like the Clocky.
  • Make your alarm the most annoying sound ever. You’ll want to turn it off then! This especially works if your alarm clock is across the room, which would force you to get up and turn it off.

Quickly Get Ready

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  • Consider showering at night to prevent rush in the morning.
  • If you wake up and your hair looks dirty, spray on some dry shampoo!
  • If you’re getting short on time and can’t spend a ton of time on your makeup, use a quick, multi-use product such as Benetint or Stainiac along with a tinted moisturizer and mascara.
  • Don’t have much time to style your hair? Try these easy and fast hairstyles. (Also, try searching Pinterest for “easy hairstyle” – tons of good ones there!)

Beat Traffic

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  • Check your local traffic before leaving to make sure which roads to avoid. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in an unexpected traffic jam before a test.
  • If you have a smartphone, use an app such as Waze to aid you in finding the quickest and best route.
  • Make sure you also consider the weather. Even rain can interfere with your commute time!

Remember: Safe driving is more important than being on time. Avoid phone calls, texting, and studying while on the road.

What are your thoughts?

Are you a commuter? Have you ever had to commute, even for a day? What’s your opinion on commuting? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? I’d love to know!

Posted on on November 3, 2012 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , ,

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24 Responses to “Tips & Tricks for College Commuting”

  1. 1
    November 3rd, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    These “tips” seem like common sense more than “tricks”. “Quickly get ready,” “wake up on time” and “beat traffic”…..these all seem silly to me.

  2. 2
    November 3rd, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Another thing that has saved me from being late is carpooling. It might not work for everyone, but it has kept me and my friends from being late almost all semester. It has really helped some of us stay motivated to not blow off classes!

  3. 3
    November 3rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Here’s a good tip: 8am classes! Almost 80% of college students refuse to go that early. So, no having to rush/ fight for a parking spot. (at least at my school) Haha

  4. 4
    November 3rd, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    For the first 2 years of my college I went to community college and I always did these things! I agree with Maegan, I always had 8am classes and I got a spot in the parking garage which was great in the rain or during upstate NY winters!

    Also, I knew how long it took me to drive to school on an average day with average traffic and how long it took me from parking to get to my class. So I knew for my 8am classes, I had to leave at by 7:25. Timing this made me almost never late to class

    Great Post as always!

  5. 5
    November 3rd, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I have the hardest time waking up, no matter my alarm system. I either turn it off and go back to sleep or get up, turn them off, and get back in bed.

  6. 6
    November 3rd, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Wouldn’t have added anything but packing a lunch the night before.

  7. 7
    November 3rd, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I have a 30-40 minute commute every day! Really appreciated this post – thanks!

  8. 8
    November 3rd, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    If your running really late and can’t blow dry your hair: 1) point all your car vents towards your face, 2) blast the heat (a/c works to, but not as well). Works for me, the back is still a bit damp, but not as bad showing up to class looking you swam across the river to get to class. I would also suggest a ‘leave by ____ time’ alarm to your phone. That way you don’t get distracted and end up leaving late. :)

  9. 9
    November 3rd, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I’m in nursing school and our clinicals start as early as 6 a.m! The only time in my life that i’ll be thankful for uniforms – I literally wake up 15 mins before and quickly get dressed, do my hair, and am out the door!

  10. 10
    November 3rd, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you! As a commuter, it’s so gratifying to get some recognition as a legitimate student and not a second class citizen (my school is even planning to build a new dorm on part of the main parking lot!). This is my third year commuting to college; living on campus was simply not a viable financial option for me. It may not be the popular idea of the “college experience”, but for me commuting is much more like real life and gives me much more freedom.

    I completely agree about early classes. Getting up early is never fun (especially in winter!) – why I set up to four alarms for myself – but I love being able to get my classes done and going home. I also agree about planning outfits ahead of time; the first outfit in the linked article about easy outfits to put together – jeans, tshirt, and cardigan with a headband – is virtually my daily uniform.

    Love College Fashion! Keep up the great work!

  11. 11
    November 3rd, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    As Kate said, it’s really nice to see some commuter recognition. Most of the commuters at my school are older, night school students. I already use most of these tips if I’m running late, but it’s still nice. I have an hour commute, an hour and a half with traffic, as well as a $5 bridge tole everyday. The most important thing I’ve learned is to be aware of how much traffic there is at the time you schedule classes.
    Commuting is definitely the way to go for me though. Dorm life just seems awful; no personal time or space, not being allowed to have a car sometimes, not getting off campus much, having to eat terrible food etc. I feel like I appreciate my education and my school more than many residents as well.

  12. 12
    November 4th, 2012 at 1:09 am

    If you have a long commute with a lot of traffic often consider getting a GPS with traffic built in. I have one that notifies me if there is going to be a delay on my route, how much time it will add to the journey, and whether there is a faster route or whether the route I’m on is still the fastest one. If there is a faster route the GPS will ask me whether I want to change to it and I just have to say “yes” or “no” – no pressing buttons while driving.
    My GPS (one of the ones from the TomTom Go range) was pretty pricey, but if you can afford it I really recommend getting a GPS with traffic.

  13. 13
    November 4th, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Any tips for commuting by train?

  14. 14
    November 4th, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    If you’re a bus commuter (I spend a total of two hours busing to college and back home again every day), the BEST thing you can have is a charged iPod and quality earbuds! I love listening to podcasts like This American Life and CNN daily news. Audiobooks are great, too! Sometimes I’ve been SO engrossed in what I’m listening to that the entire hour just flies by. :)

  15. 15
    November 4th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Great post! I just transferred to a new school and I’m commuting by bus every day – it’s really not that bad! LOVE having time to read for pleasure – definitely suggest bringing a book to all commuters (it’s nice to have something to do when you’re on campus and don’t want to do homework during free time…). Totally agree with packing a lunch the night before – and healthy snacks of course! Also, when scheduling your classes each semester, it’s easiest if you can make a big block of classes each day, not spread out throughout the day.

  16. 16
    November 4th, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    If I have an early class, I will make my lunch, have a shower, and completely pack all my books the night before. Works like a charm.

  17. 17
    November 4th, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    commuter life stinks! esp. having to plan your classes in a way where you can finish them all in a small period of time – so as to avoid going home and coming back, etc. i would recommend making REALLY good friends on campus; so that you have a place to stay if you’re too tired to go home or if the weather gets bad.

    i second Gigi’s comment – do bring fully charged electronics. i can’t leave my home without my cell phone charger.

    keep an extra outfit in your car! if you like to party or go out after classes, have a back-up outfit in your class so you can do a quick change. i also keep a pair of shoes, an umbrella, lysol wipes, a case of water, a first aid kit, and TONS of pads in my car! i’ve never had a time when i’ve needed all of these things, but i’m the go-to girl for all of my friends! oh, lysol wipes are a must actually. birds are so disrespectful.. pooping wherever they want.. lol!

    STUDY your campus maps and find out which lots are only for students. many of my friends have gotten ticketed because they parked in faculty lots, or in residential living lots. gas is expensive enough – don’t pile on the tickets!

  18. 18
    November 5th, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Commuters unite! It’s fresh to see a post on commuting to college. I’ve been doing that for the past 3 years, partly because I can’t stand dorm life. Other than the great tips given to others above, here are some of mine:

    – Prepare your breakfast the night before!

    I realised no one mentioned this, likely because most college students skip breakfast. Don’t! You don’t have to. For me, I prepare about 2-3 days of oatmeal in advance, put them in the fridge and scoop out a portion in the morning. If you’re gonna spend an hour commuting (quite common really), you could buy nutritious breakfast bars or have some dry cereal on the way to school!

    – Download mobile apps which help you manage school work!

    For me, I have Dropbox, my school’s app, Google Drive on my phone. While commuting (I commute by train, so no driving involved), I check my emails and documents, and if I’ve downloaded the set of notes for class that day, I sometimes preview them. It’s MUCH more handy reading from your small screen than holding a full notebook because trains get crowded on some days. And it’s a good way to start the day too!

    Hope this helps whoever considering commuting to school. Really, it isn’t as horrible as most people depict it to be!

  19. 19
    November 6th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    ashley — Some of these things I never thought about until I was a commuter. If you’re a seasoned commuter and these tips are common knowledge to you, that’s great.

    Maegen — That is a great idea for those who can manage to get themselves up early enough. I have one next semester, actually!

    Faith — I totally relate. I can never wake up.

    Stephanie — I would treat a train like you would a bus. Make sure you know exactly where you need to be and how long it takes. You could even add in a sort of time cushion, just in case anything gets in the way. There also might be some Apps you could find that would help with train travel.

    cg — Yes! All of that. Thanks for the additional tips! It’s handy to have friends on campus.

    am — Love those apps! Dropbox is fantastic. Thanks for your additional tricks.

    Thanks for all of your comments, everyone!

  20. 20
    November 7th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I’ve been a commuter for several semesters now and I agree with many of these tips, especially showering the night before. Here are a few tips I’ve learned:

    -Scheduling classes closer together and trying to fit as many in a day as possible. Not having long gaps between classes will force you to stay on campus and get some work done.
    -Find the cheapest gas near your school, for obvious reasons.
    -Get a meal plan. My school offers several meal plans, and I chose the smallest one, a $550 a year option. If you’re going to stay on campus during a long day, you’ll definitely get hungry.
    -Getting involved with a club will help you meet people.

  21. 21
    January 15th, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I’m going to a community college right now and my first class is at 9:20. I try to get everything packed and sorted the night before so I just have to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, watch the news a bit and I put on a bit of makeup (these days, it’s eyeliner, concealer, blush, and I tame my eyebrows) and I leave. What I do is I watch the weather and I have a general idea of what I want to wear. I shower, I pack my backpack, and I do all of my homework and get all the random things I need and I put them in my backpack. Hope this helped

  22. 22
    January 20th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Look into subway or commuter rail as well as buses. MBTA’s commuter rail offers free wifi, and you can purchase your tickets on a cellphone. When you board, just activate the ticket, show the conductor….TA-DA!

  23. 23
    August 16th, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Very very very very very very helpful! + this article helped me find this great blog!

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