Getting The College Experience As A Commuter Student

Not every college student gets to experience campus life. According to U.S. News and World Report, nearly 20 percent of incoming college freshman are commuters and many large universities report that the majority of students are commuters – in the case of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, this number reaches a whopping 90 percent. While it’s true that being a commuter isn’t exactly the same as living on campus 24/7, it doesn’t need to make you an outlier, either. We have some tips on how you can get a real college experience as a commuter and help you make the best of your situation.

Get involved.

If you’re not living in the dorms, it’s tough to meet people and make new friends – unless you seek out other ways to get socially entrenched on campus. Find a couple of activities that interest you – whether it’s an intramural team, student government, the campus newspaper or a club – and dive right in. Keep in mind that you don’t want to get super overwhelmed, so stay realistic about how much time you can invest in extracurriculars.

Plan to stick around campus.

Rather than schedule classes in a block that only requires you to hang around for a few hours a day, purposely space them out so you have to stay. On down time, eat in the school cafeteria, schedule coffee dates with new friends and find great on-campus study areas to get work done. The more you’re around, the more likely you are to be a part of campus life.

Grab a friend and hit after-hours events.

Don’t miss out on parties, football tailgates and basketball games because you don’t live on-campus. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make friends if you get outside of your comfort zone and put yourself into the social scene. If you need to bring a high school friend with you to feel more comfortable, then do it. Whatever it takes to accentuate your school pride!

If you’re living at home, break out of “high school mode.

You can’t expect to feel like a college student if you’re still living in high school. While it’s nice to maintain your friendships with people from your youth, make sure you mix it up by making new friends at school. Also, set standards with your parents – while it’s important that you respect them and abide by their rules while you’re living under their roof, have an open conversation about new boundaries that you might need as a college student.

Get an on-campus job.

Many commuters live at home because money is a problem – and they need to get jobs. Check into your school’s on-campus work-study program and see what opportunities there are for you to get a job there. You’ll be surprised at what’s available – from dining hall workers to admissions office assistants to personal training gigs – and the pay is often more than you’d make working at a local retailer or fast food chain. Plus, there’s the added bonus of meeting your peers and spending more time on campus.