How to Survive the Commuter Student Life in College?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student holding on the railings while on a commute.

How to Survive the Commuter Student Life in College?

What Is a Commuter Student in College?

When you think of a typical college student, you might picture someone living on campus, attending classes, and participating in extracurricular activities. However, not all college students have that experience. Some students choose to live off-campus and commute to school. These students are known as commuter students.

What is a commuter student in college? A commuter student lives off-campus and travels to school for classes. He/she may live with family, rent an apartment, or have his/her own home. These type of students may choose to commute for a variety of reasons, including financial considerations, family obligations, or a desire to live independently.

Being a commuter student can present unique challenges compared to living on campus. For one, commuting takes time and effort, which can add stress to a student’s day. Commuter students may also miss out on some aspects of campus life, such as living in a dorm, participating in late-night activities, or easily accessing campus resources.

Two students waiting for the bus station.

However, commuter students can also enjoy some benefits that on-campus students may not have. For example, they may have more flexibility with their schedule, allowing them to work or intern while attending school.

Commuter students may also save money on room and board expenses and have access to a wider range of housing options.

Being a commuter student in college can present its own unique set of challenges and benefits. With careful planning, organization, and involvement in campus life, commuter students can make the most of their college experience and achieve academic success.

What Are the Struggles of Being a Commuter Student?

College commuter students face unique challenges that can make their college experience more challenging than students who live on campus. Commuter students are responsible for managing their transportation, scheduling, and time management, which can be difficult to balance with academic, work, and personal responsibilities.

What are the struggles of being a commuter student? Let’s explore some of the common struggles that commuter students may face.

Long Commutes and Transportation Costs

One of the most obvious struggles of being a commuter student is the long commute to campus. This can mean having to wake up earlier, spending more time in traffic, or dealing with unpredictable situations on public transportation. Long commutes can also be costly, as students must pay for gas, tolls, or public transportation fares, which can add up over time.

Two students sitting next to each other for a commute.

Limited Access to Campus Resources

Commuter students may not have the same level of access to campus resources as on-campus students. For example, they may not have access to on-campus housing, dining options, or recreational facilities. This can make it harder for commuter students to feel connected to campus life and fully participate in college activities.

Difficulty Finding a Work/Life Balance

Commuter students may have to balance their academic responsibilities with work or family obligations. This can make it difficult to find a balance between school and personal life, as students may have to leave campus early or miss out on extracurricular activities to meet other responsibilities.

Teenage boy writing an essay using computer sitting by desk in room alone.

Feeling Disconnected from Campus Life

Commuter students may feel disconnected from campus life and miss out on social opportunities that are available to on-campus students. It can be more challenging for commuter students to make friends, form study groups, or participate in campus clubs or organizations.

Lack of Privacy and Personal Space

Living off-campus means that commuter students may not have the same level of privacy and personal space as on-campus students. They may have to share living spaces with roommates or family members or deal with noise and distractions that come with living in a non-academic environment.

Difficulties with Parking and Commuting Logistics

Commuter students may struggle with finding parking on campus or dealing with parking permits and regulations. They may also have to navigate the logistics of commuting during peak hours, which can be stressful and time-consuming.

Being a commuter student can present its own set of struggles and challenges. However, by being proactive, organized, and involved in campus life, commuter students can overcome these challenges and make the most of their college experience. It’s important for colleges and universities to recognize the needs of commuter students and provide resources and support to help them succeed.

What Are the Benefits of Commuting to College?

While many students choose to live on campus during their college years, there are also a significant number of students who choose to commute to college.

Some students may live close enough to campus that it makes more sense to commute than to pay for on-campus housing, while others may have family or work obligations that require them to live at home. Additionally, some students may simply prefer the independence and flexibility that comes with commuting to college.

A young man coming down from the bus station.

While there are certainly challenges associated with commuting, there are also many advantages of being a commuter student.

Now, what are the benefits of commuting to college? Let’s go over the benefits of commuting to college and provide tips for students to make the most out of their commuting experience.

Cost Savings

One of the most significant benefits of commuting to college is cost savings. On-campus housing, meal plans, and other expenses associated with living on campus are expensive. Commuter students, on the other hand, can save money on housing, food, and other expenses. This can make college more affordable and allow students to graduate with less debt.

Increased Flexibility

Commuter students have more flexibility in terms of scheduling and location. They can choose to live closer to work or family members and attend classes at times that are convenient for them. This can make it easier to balance academic and personal obligations and can lead to a better overall quality of life.

Greater Independence

Commuter students can live independently and manage their own living arrangements. This can be a valuable experience for students who are transitioning to adulthood and learning to navigate the world on their own. Commuting can also give students a sense of ownership and responsibility for their academic and personal success.

Access to a Broader Range of Housing Options

Commuter students have access to a broader range of housing options compared to on-campus students. They can choose to live in a house, apartment, or other type of living arrangement that meets their needs and preferences. This can lead to a more comfortable and personalized living situation.

Quick Tips to Become a Successful Commuter

To be a successful commuter student, it’s important to develop a routine that balances academic and personal obligations. Here are some quick tips that can help:

  1. Plan Your Commute: Make sure to leave enough time to commute to campus and account for traffic, weather, and other potential delays. Planning your route and mode of transportation in advance can also save time and stress.
  2. Get Involved: Just because you don’t live on campus doesn’t mean you can’t participate in campus activities. Join clubs, attend events, and get to know your fellow students.
  3. Utilize Campus Resources: Commuter students may not have easy access to campus resources like on-campus housing or dining, but there are still plenty of resources available. Visit the library, utilize academic support services, and take advantage of office hours with professors.
  4. Stay Organized: With a busy schedule, it’s important to stay on top of assignments, deadlines, and other obligations. Use a planner or app like Microsoft To-Do to stay organized and prioritize your time effectively.

From cost savings to increased flexibility and independence, commuter students have unique opportunities to make the most of their college experience. While there are certainly challenges associated with commuting, these benefits make it a worthwhile option for many students.

By implementing the quick tips discussed, individuals can not only make their daily commutes more efficient and less stressful but also increase their overall productivity and well-being. Remember that a successful commute is not just about arriving at your destination on time but also about finding ways to make the journey itself more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Essentials For College Commuter Students

College can be a stressful time, especially for commuter students who have to balance their academic workload with the challenges of traveling to and from campus. As a college commuter, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure that you can make the most of your time on the road or in public transit.

Here are some essentials for college commuter students to help make their daily commute more efficient and less stressful.

A Reliable Bag

A good backpack or messenger bag is a must-have for college commuter students. It should be sturdy, spacious enough to carry textbooks, a laptop, and other essentials, and have comfortable straps for carrying it around. Look for a bag with multiple compartments, so you can easily access your items and stay organized.

Comfortable Shoes

Commuting to college often means walking long distances or standing for extended periods. Therefore, having comfortable shoes is essential to avoid sore feet and blisters. Choose a pair of shoes that offer good support, fit well, and are suitable for different weather conditions.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated throughout the day is crucial, especially if you have a busy schedule that involves commuting. Invest in a durable and reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day. This way, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding single-use plastic bottles.

Portable Charger

A dead phone battery can be a significant inconvenience when you’re commuting to college. Having a portable charger on hand ensures that you can charge your devices on the go and stay connected.

Umbrella or Raincoat

Rainy days can be unpredictable, and you do not want to get caught unprepared. Keep an umbrella or raincoat in your bag so you can stay dry and comfortable during your commute.


Commuting can be tiring, and you may not always have time to grab a bite to eat. Pack some healthy snacks, such as nuts, granola bars, or fruit, to keep you fueled throughout the day.

Personal Care Items

Personal care items such as hand sanitizer, tissues, and lip balm can make a big difference in your daily commute. They can help you stay clean, healthy, and comfortable, especially during cold and flu season.

A Planner or Calendar

As mentioned earlier, keeping track of deadlines, appointments, and class schedules can be challenging, especially if you have a busy commute. Use a planner or calendar to stay organized and keep track of your schedule.

From staying organized and prepared to using technology to your advantage, these tips can help you optimize your commute and ultimately achieve greater success in your academic pursuits. So, whether you are a seasoned college commuter or just starting out, you can make the most of your daily travel time.

If you are a high school senior preparing for college, you should also consider your living options. Some universities might have residential requirements and some might give you the freedom to choose whether to live on-campus, reside within the neighborhood, or live at home with your family.

Carefully consider your options and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. By choosing the right living option, you can create a comfortable and supportive environment that will help you succeed academically and personally during your college years.

On the other hand, your housing option is just one of the things you need to consider before applying for college. With the extremely competitive admissions process and numerous application materials, you may feel overwhelmed and lose track of your college preparation.

AdmissionSight has over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. As one of the most reliable college admissions consulting companies in the US, about 75% of our students are admitted to Ivy League universities and other top-ranked schools in the US.

Feel free to set up an appointment with AdmissionSight today and book your initial consultation with our college admissions experts.


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