College Tips: Commuter Students

It’s that time of the year again and this time I’m a sophomore so I’ll have the opportunity to actually impart knowledge on some of you freshies out there!

First a little background on my college situation.  I go to a commuter college in the city and had lived at these new dorms at my college.  Even these were normally 30 minutes away from “campus” and I’ve had the experience of doing my 1-2 hour commute from home over the summer.  I thought it would be fun to just share some tips I wish someone told me coming into college and maybe help some of you freshies who may have been scared for college like I once was.
Please feel free to comment with questions, I almost always respond and actually love giving advice for things like this.  Now unto the tips!

Avoid Private Loans

I cannot explain to you how shocked I was when I realized how much 6% interest on my loan for my dorms cost me already.  As well as how shocked I was to read an article in the Wall Street Journal about this women so crippled by loans and unable to get a job in her desired career that she was putting off having children.  What? I’m happy that my college is cheap enough where I don’t need to take out a loan but if you need to do so, avoid private loans and look into financial aid, government grants, scholarships and public loans fast.  You don’t want the weight of college loans stopping you from living your life once you actually graduate.

Carry a lightweight laptop or an ipad

I never understood those people who commuted and dragged 15 inch laptops to school.  Your back will break.  I carry around an 11 inch Macbook air and barley feel it.  Plus having a laptop that is lightweight is an easy way to carry a ton of information in one tiny place.  I’d recommend an ipad if you want to avoid carry anything at all.  If you buy a stencil you’ll be able to actually write notes for classes like math on your ipad.

Additionally you can always buy gadgets that will give your ipad a keyboard making it easier for classes you may need to write lots of essays or papers for.  If you don’t feel comfortable shelling out a minimum of $1000 for a Mac, turn to a smaller size HP.  An 11 inch HP actually isn’t that heavy and netbooks can be very cheap and lightweight.  That’s what I’d like to call the best of both worlds.

Join a InterVarsity club/organization!

Some of the best friends I’ve made in college have either lived with me at the dorms or were in a club with me.  And considering if you’re commuting, your classes can be really difficult to make friends in at times.  Most of the time in commuter schools people are racing from class to class.  Clubs are a great way to meet people with similar interests to you and form some sort of community.  And if you’re in the RIGHT clubs, sometimes your eligible for early registration depending on your college.

Find ways to enjoy your commute

On average my commute is and hour and a half.  That means I spend 3 hours each day just traveling.  If you’re spending that much time traveling enjoy it as much as you can.  I started listening to podcasts, catching up on sleep on the train, reading and even doing some homework.  I’ve come to the point that sometimes I enjoy going home alone because I want the time of solitude and peace to either prepare myself for a long day of school or unwind and relax before hitting the hay.  I’m literally one of the those people who spend all day in school.  I just think it’s easier to get work done and fun to see who I can run into once I’m there.

Take an average of 15 credits or 5 classes

Any more or less and you’ll be either really bored or struggling.  I took 16 credits first semester and was fine so I thought taking 18 credits would be a great idea.  I ended up feeling really stressed and doing a lot of things really poorly instead of a few things really well.  Also keep in mind most people want to graduate in 4 years.  So if you’re one of these people, be on top of your stuff and make sure your taking enough credits in the right classes.

Be Organized

Depending on your college, sometimes you really are just a number.  Your professor won’t be making sure you hand everything in time, that’s up to you.  You ultimately do as well as you’re willing to do.

Stand Out

Make it a point to talk to your professors either at the beginning or end of class, better yet both.  There will be a time when you’ll need a letter of recommendation and with the number of faces your professor sees on a daily basis you’ll really want to stand out.  Back in high school I didn’t have to think twice when I needed a letter from a teacher.  But there’s already been a time where I’ve needed a letter of recommendation and needed to really scratch my brain for a professor who I knew would remember be.  Don’t be placed in a situation where you can’t think of anyone.

So that’s really all I can think of right now.  And just a very brief list at that, if you think you’d be interested in a post about faith in college please let me know.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about writing.  And if you’d like me to touch base on other aspects, again let me know.

Have a great and blessed day!

Neeners

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Day 27: Original Photo of the city you live in

 

I commute to school in the city from my suburb town.  Because of this I liked to think I live between the train tracks.   I took this almost way back when I first started this challenge.  Crazy huh?

Day 14: A picture of you last year – how have you changed?

This picture was taken of me on June 17th, almost exactly one year ago.  (Give or take a week?)  How do I know this?  This was the day I went for my college orientation.  I apologize if this picture is distorted, it’s much more flattering on a smaller scale!  This is actually one of the only ID pictures I really like of myself which I find funny because I remember how horrible I felt that day.

I was not ready for commuting to my college.  I ended up staying at the dorms my first year but now this is something that I will have to deal with!  I left my house at 5AM to reach school disastrously early at 7-ish.  I got off at the six train with a set of cute instructions from a friend of mine who graduated from my college a little while ago.  But being that the six train is so close to school my instructions ended there- I mean how could I get lost a block a way?

I got lost.  And I was petrified.  My college is in the city and I literally have little to no sense of direction.  I can go the same route everyday for a year and still need a GPS or navigation.

I eventually made it to school really sweaty and really exhausted.  It was then that I was told to smile for my ID picture.  My friends always yell at me for not smiling with my teeth but at that point I was so tired I’m lucky I didn’t blink.  I actually I did blink the first time this picture was taken, but I got a redo.  Aren’t we so lucky to have those sometimes?  I’ve had my fair share already.

I let my situation dictate my emotions.  A year ago, I did that ALL the time.  I remember a little later on our orientations leaders told us, “Don’t be sad in your ID pictures, you have them for 4 years!!” After hearing that I so desperately wanted to retake mine but was too scared to ask.  I just got really lucky that I still ended up liking it.

One year ago at this time I really didn’t want anything to do with InterVarsity, a christian fellowship at my school.  I didn’t want to be known as this crazy Jesus girl like I’ve been known for most of my life to my non-religious friends.  I was planning on joining a sorority and maybe a few other clubs like newspaper.  I thought being part of a church was enough, at that was the extent of my dedication to God.

A year ago I think I didn’t really even want to go to the college I now I go to.  I wasn’t secure in the person I now know I am.  And I was really scared of going to a college that everyone close to me told me not to go to.  My uncle and my mom wanted me to go to a small private college nearby.  And the idea of being in the city alone really scared them.  Some people told me going far away to upstate New York was the way to go.

Honestly, I can’t help but think about how Jeremiah 29:11 was in action all along,

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”

I look back at this journal entry the day I wrote I decided to go to college in the city.  And this was a decision I made 100% on my own, or so I thought.  God was really in control even from the start.

A year ago I was mostly the person I am today, just not fully there yet, something was missing.  And a year from now I’ll be pretty much the same as today, just a little bit better.