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 30: a picture of yourself this day and 5 good things that happened since you started the challenge

I literally just took this picture in the middle of the tutoring center at my college.  I tried to act like a ninja when I was taking it- did it work?  I find it so crazy that 30 days have already gone by, I feel like I started this challenge yesterday and now I’m done.  I think it feels a little bitter sweet to be typing up my last post.  On one hand I’m happy that I don’t have to blog everyday, but on the other hand, I don’t have to blog everyday!  And I feel like being forced to blog helped me in a million different ways.  Now unto 5 good things that happened to me since I started this 30 day challenge.

1.  InterVarsity used one of my blog posts.

I wrote about InterVarsity and strangely enough, InterVarsity found my blog and not only asked to use it, but have me write for them this summer.  I’ve only written one other post for them so far but I find this such an incredibly humbling experience.  And I’m so grateful to be used by God in this capacity.  I never considered myself a writer, but I did believe I had something interesting to say.  And the amazing thing about God is that he calls you just to be called, he’ll qualify you and do the rest.

2. I turned nineteen

I know that sounds stupid, but not a lot of people can say they lived to be nineteen years old.  So many people die young or tragically and I was blessed to live yet another year of my life.  I’m thankful for that.

3.  I had the most productive summer of my life

I’m not even halfway through but regardless of whether of not I pass this seemingly impossible math class, I’ve learned and done so much this summer.  Most times during the summer I bum around each day and do nothing but right now I can’t remember a time I’ve worked harder really.  And the the thing is I don’t even do that much, which speaks to my work ethic.  Or lack there of.  But I’m learning that it’s okay to take breaks sometimes.  As well as the fact that one cannot be working all day long.  I think its ingrained in our brains that something is wrong if we’re not always working.  That we’re procrastinating and wasting our precious lives away!  But most people procrastinate.  Maybe we should stop spending so much time complaining about doing nothing and just work hard whenever we do work.

4. I stopped caring a little more.

Again this sounds so counter intuitive, but not caring about the small stuff really changed my outlook on life.  I stopped letting myself engage in petty drama that’s around me.  I stopped caring about whether or not I was coming off a certain way.  And in turn I started caring about just being a good person and relying less on these superficial things like the name of the brands that I wear.  Learning to let go and not care is revealing and ultimately releasing.

5.  I’m going on a mission trip to Guyana.

I think normally I would have been too afraid of being unqualified to go.  But I’m going because I feel like God has called me to do this!  I plan on blogging about experiences when I get the chance, so check back if you want to hear from me.