Hello again, commuter friends!
This might seem obvious, but it is important to know that your college experience as a commuter student will be different from that of your peers. You will be driving to and from campus every day, you will not have a dorm room (who needs ‘em?), and you likely will not be eating every meal at the dining hall. Your transition to college will also be a very different experience compared to students who move to campus. Here are a few handy Do’s and Don’ts for your transition to college as a commuter. (Most of these also apply to literally every college student ever, but are especially important for commuter students.)
1. DO go to Connection Group Activities
Connection Groups are put together by Orientation Board right when you get on campus. They are small groups run by two upperclassmen for freshmen to get to know one another the first few weeks of college. They may seem awkward, and take up time that you may not think you have, but they are a great way to meet people and build friendships when you first arrive on campus.
2. DO go to the org fair…and sign up for things!
Do not be afraid to sign up for email lists of clubs that you think you might possibly maybe want to be a part of. Even sign up for clubs that meet later than you think you want to stay on campus. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to unsubscribe from their email list.
3. DO find 1 or 2 clubs or organizations to join
This is good advice for all new college students, but it is ESPECIALLY important for the commuter student. Because you do not have a roommate or live on a hall with RAs and 20 other people, it will be more difficult for you to build community on campus. Joining an organization or club (or two) is a fantastic way to counteract this and build friendships right from the start of your college experience. Take it from someone who has been where you are, it is totally worth it to stay on campus a few extra hours for a club meeting once a week!
4. DO come to campus for more than just your classes
This should not be unexpected, given point #3. But seriously, and I cannot emphasize this enough, COLLEGE IS MORE THAN JUST THE CLASSES YOU TAKE! If you only come to campus to go to class, then you probably will not have much fun – again, I speak from experience. Take the time to go to events at night or on weekends. It will be worth it! Remember, you’ll have to be intentional in becoming a part of the wonderful community we have here at Grove City, so just be here!
5. DON’T treat your classes like a 9 to 5. Have fun!
I know it seems like I am beating a dead horse here, but this is key. If you only come to campus to go to class, then you will end up treating your college experience like a job, which it is not. You are (most likely) a full-time student, but so much learning happens outside of the classroom, and if you clock out after your last class ends at 4, then you’ll really miss out. Do not short-change yourself by acting too much like an adult.
6. DO buy a meal plan
This was some of the best advice I was given at the start of my freshman year. Through Bon Appetit, the College offers partial meal plans for students who live off campus or in the apartments on lower campus. You can buy 25, 50 or 75 meals in advance. This might sound like an extra, unnecessary expense (not paying for room and board was probably a deciding factor in your choice to live off campus), but I assure you, it is 100% worth it. Purchasing a meal plan will allow you to get meals on campus with your friends who live here. It will also give you much more freedom in planning your schedule because you won’t have to worry about bringing your lunch/dinner everyday.
7. DO hang out with people in the dorms and Student Union
You can hang out with people wherever you want, but the point here is just to talk to people – build friendships with people outside of the classroom. There is a commuter lounge with tables, comfy chairs, lockers and a kitchenette located on the second floor of the Student Union, which I would encourage you to use, but do not just stay there! Sit downstairs in the Student Union where you can run into people you know and catch up while you are doing some homework. It could be as simple as that, or just chilling with somebody in their dorm room in between classes.
8. DO learn to manage your time well
This is another one that goes out to every college student, but as a commuter, you will lose some time driving to and from campus every day, so it is especially important for you to know how to plan ahead. For students who live close to the College, this is not as much of a big deal, but the further away from the College that you live, the more time you will lose driving every day, so it becomes all the more important to plan ahead. This may sound difficult and a little ominous, but it is completely doable. You can, in fact, be a full-fledged college student even if you live off-campus. *Pro tip: use a planner!*