Updated: Nov 16, 2020
PHHS ‘18, Caldwell University ‘22
A typical concern about commuting to college is that you will “miss out” on the college experience, but this doesn’t have to be true. As with most things in life, you will get out as much as you put into your college experience-- you get to decide how your experience will go, especially if you commute. Commuting does not mean you have to compromise anything socially or academically, you simply have to find a balance and what works best for you. After making such a big transition into college, it can be hard to find a new balance, especially between academics, your home life, and your new social life on campus, but there are some helpful ways to find this balance.
One of the first tasks you’re probably going to have to do is create your class schedule. When designing your schedule, be strategic and choose times that best suit you. Some commuters like to bulk up their schedule so they only have classes 2-3 days a week, with 3-4 classes a day, and then have a long 4 day weekend where they’re not on campus. Others like to spread out their classes throughout the week so they have a lighter load each day and are on campus more. Be careful to avoid potential burnout where you have too many classes and too much work in a short period of time. It’s also nice to be involved in activities around campus, but try not to take on too many things that will overwhelm you… this goes for both residents and commuters! I personally like to build gaps in between my classes so I have time to meet up with my friends, get some homework done, grab something to eat, or just relax. Also as a commuter, when making your schedule you may want to factor in the fact that you need to drive to campus, so it may help to avoid super long days and late night classes, but again it all comes down to what you prefer and what works best for you!
Balancing Your Social Life
When I tell people I commute, the question I get most often is “isn’t it hard to get involved and make friends?” My answer—not at all. Five of my best friends at college dorm at school while I commute, and at first I was scared I would never see them or I would miss out on so much, but as I adjusted to life in college that fear went away. I found it to be pretty easy to get involved in activities and clubs on campus and spend plenty of time with my friends, even if we’re just hanging out in their dorm room or doing homework together. Many of you probably already know this, but a great way to get involved and to meet new people is through clubs. I found this especially helpful as a commuter to branch out. In high school I was a big part of drama club and loved doing it, so I decided to continue with it in college and it opened up so many opportunities for me.
So, my advice to you, future college freshmen, is to plan your freshman year in a way that will set you up for success, and to take time for yourself in addition to your academics. As I said before, you will get out as much as you put into your college experience, and during freshman year you will build your foundation for the rest of your college experience. Finding that balance between your academics and the rest of your life is, to me, one of the most important things to focus on during freshman year. The transition to college can be overwhelming, but there will be so many resources available for you along the way
Parsippany Class of 2020—best of luck to you all… You got this!