Rutgers has a lot of commuter students, and as a commuter student myself, I love to read about everyone’s experiences. I always learn something new! This semester was my first being a commuter student. Unfortunately I had a few days that my classes were spread out, and I would have as much as four hours between them. Personally, I found it really hard to make the most out of this time, as I would lose concentration, or not be sufficiently prepared. Here are some of my own tips that I lived by this semester as a commuter:
1. Bring your laptop charger.
During days when you are on campus for a long time, your laptop battery will drain. It goes especially fast if you are using it to watch Netflix during a break or listening to music on it. There were so many days that I forgot my charger, and I had to use the computer labs because I had to save my laptop batter for my evening class. There are actually a lot of charging spots all around buildings and at the libraries, so you will mostly likely always find an outlet to use.
2. Use the computer labs.
I used to only use the computer labs when I had to save my laptop battery, but I found that you can be really productive there. When I work at the computer labs, I am surrounded by people who are also doing work, and it helps me concentrate. I don’t feel tempted to go on Netflix or Buzzfeed, and I just finish my work instead. Also there are usually printers so you can print out study materials that you might need.
3. Bring enough snacks with you.
The biggest reason for my distraction is hunger. I get hungry really quickly, especially when I am doing work. So I always keep snacks that aren’t messy and keep me full. Some of my favorite snacks that I keep with me are grapes, Belvita bars, mixed nuts, and granola bars. If you don’t have enough time to grab food between classes, snacks can be very helpful!
4. Get study buddies in every class.
Things happen all the time. Whether it be illness, traffic, or something else, it is always helpful to have someone in class who you can talk to about homework or exchange notes with. I try to make at least one friend in each class, that way if I need to get the notes from someone, I have their contact information. I have also set up study meetings with those same people before exams, and they have always been very helpful. Many people in your classes are also looking for a study buddy, so it should be easy to find one!
5. Make time to meet up with your friends.
This I think is the most important tip for any commuter student. When I lived at school, it was so easy to meet up with friends for lunch or study with them because they all lived nearby, or just a bus ride away. Now that I don’t live at school, it is harder for me to meet with them. Sometimes it requires me staying at school later, but in the end, it is worth it to make time for my friends. Whether we are studying or just hanging out, I always feel recharged and happy after spending time with people who make me laugh!
The experience of being a commuter student is different for each person depending on the length of their commute and the way their schedule is set. In the end, it does help you to learn how to be more productive during breaks between classes, and does force you to plan your days more so that you make the time to spend with friends or working. I learned a lot from my first semester as a commuter student, and am excited to see what it will be like next semester.