Tips for Commuter Students in College: How to live at home and still make the most of your college experience! Get rid of your fear of missing out, save money, and have fun doing it! #College #university #commuting

If you’ve been around here the last few weeks you might have noticed I’ve been talking quite a bit recently about how expensive college is. One really good way to cut down this cost is to commute to your college classes.

With 77% of students who attend a 2 year school commuting and about 40% of students who attend a 4 year school commuting, you’re in good company of students who want to save money by living at home with their family.

However, that also means that 60% of students who attend 4 year universities live on campus, which can leave you with some serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) of “the college experience.”

I personally live on campus at my university, but about 80% of my closest friends all commute! I received an e-mail from a reader a couple of weeks ago asking if I had any tips for commuter students in college so I reached out to 4 of my commuting friends, and one blogger who commuted back in college, to get their advice.

Here are the most common trends and most helpful tips that they responded with!

Schedule Your Classes Wisely

commutescheduleWhen you’re living on campus, it isn’t a hassle to schedule your classes with an hour or two break in between.. it actually gives you a great excuse to go take a nap (guilty!) or catch up on some homework.

However, when you’re commuting it can get boring being stuck on campus for a couple of hours with nothing to do. One of the most common things that commuters try to do is to schedule their classes with as little time for breaks in between as they can.

When you do have breaks in your schedule that you can’t work around, make sure to utilize them! Find a nice spot to study in, work on homework, eat some lunch, or meet up with friends.

Afraid to sit alone with nothing to do? My friend Elaine Abarta said: “Always always always have your laptop and your Netflix account on standby. Remember, it’s okay to sit alone at a table. Truthfully, people don’t care if you’re sitting by yourself! Everybody has been there, and everybody has weird breaks in between classes that they can’t get around. Don’t worry!


Speaking of sitting alone during breaks between classes… don’t sit alone all the time! It’s super important to go out and make friends. My friend Emma Ofria says: “don’t just sit/ nap/ Instagram in your car during breaks or gaps! Socialize! Make in between class time fun by getting to know more people on campus.

Pam gave me the great tip of “get involved in a club or organization on campus so you can meet people” as well as “participate in campus events, this will help you feel connected to the college!”

Emma took this one step further by adding keep up to date on your schools event calendar. Often times commuters are the last to hear about fun gatherings on campus, so this is the best way to stay connected.”

Save Money on Food

If your school is anything like mine, they charge ridiculously high prices for meals at the dining commons if you don’t have a meal plan (I’m talking $15 for lunch.. ouch)! Don’t put up with that.

My friend Emma Ofria says “plan your weeks meals in advance! Meal prep can be fun and it saves you from spending a lot on unhealthy campus snacks! I recommend trader joes premixed salads and kind bars for some quick energy!”

Elaine also backed this up with packing a lunch seems lame but it’s better than wasting all of your money on expensive food on campus. Trust me.”

In addition to this.. my friend Hailey added: “take advantage of your friends with meal plans (;” It’s true that a lot of meal plans give residents some guest meals or extra money to spend, that could help you feel involved and connected on campus!

My friend Pia also mentioned a money saving idea that “if you can try to find someone you can carpool with.”


Make it fun! Even though I live on campus, at the end of last year I spent a lot of my lunches making impromptu picnics with my friends who commute in the park on campus! Get a group of your friends together, find a pretty place on campus, and make a day out of it.

(Check out the picture above there! That’s Emma on the left, me in the center left, Pia on the center right, and Elaine on the right!)

Be Prepared

I’ve never thought of this before.. but as my friend Elaine pointed out: “Your car is your dorm! Keep it clean!”

She recommends keeping some extra supplies in your car so you’re ready for anything. You never know when these will come in handy! Things to start out with are things like: toothbrush, toothpaste, extra clothes, workout clothes, snacks, and water.

While your friends who live on campus can run back to their dorm to change before an impromptu adventure or trip to the gym, it will be much easier for you to go grab stuff out of your car than drive home to change.

Extra Advice

commuteendConcerned about the Commute?

“Make a good playlist on spotify! Helps the drive go by faster when you’re jamming out to your favorite songs!” – Emma

“Even if you have to wake up super early. It is worth it to get that perfect parking spot.” – Elaine

Need More Ways to Connect with Friends?

“If you can, have school friends over to your house!! If they are living on campus, they will think a little escape would be fun! Plus home cooked meals are a rarity so treat your friends! And it will make you realize that living away from campus can be cool too.” – Emma

“Spending more time on campus and participating in clubs and going to every event really helps meet new people and makes you feel more included with the school.” – Pia


“I would say use the campus as much a you would if you lived there. Study in the library, eat lunch in common areas, print things out on campus, its tempting to eat lunch in your car or study in the quiet of your own home and sometimes its necessary but try to be active on campus.” – Hailey

I’ve noticed from watching my commuter friends that they spend a lot of time on campus outside of classes! Hangout in your friends dorm rooms, schedule study groups with other students on campus, hangout at Starbucks while doing your homework. This will help make it feel more like college and less like high school where you just go to campus only for classes!

Still Scared of Missing Out?

“Living in dorms isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, keep that in perspective. Instead of feeling left out, put your energy into making new friends or joining a club! It will give you the same sense of community as does living near on campus- minus the costs!”

– Emma

Shoutout to my friends Elaine Abarta, Emma Ofria, Pia Aquije, and Hailey Dorthalina for letting me feature their quotes in this post! Follow them online!

Elaine: Twitter | Instagram  Emma: Instagram


Do you have any tips for students who don’t live on campus? What was your favorite college experience? 



Tips for Commuter Students in College
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11 thoughts on “Tips for Commuter Students in College

  • August 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Great tips!! I commute to class twice a week! Sometimes its a drag but sometimes it’s a way to get extra sleep hehe.

  • September 1, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I was a commuter, all 4 years, 5 days a week, too. I spent most days on campus the whole day, which I actually found convenient, because I got all my homework done in between classes, and honestly didn’t do much homework at home. I packed a lunch too–that definitely helped me stay prepared, although sure, I did end up buying Snickers bars from the vending machine upon occasion. haha! It’s college, right? I learned to really love the library, sometimes taking naps on the couches there in between classes. Staying all day meant that I could go to a lot of evening events at the college, which helped me feel more involved.

  • September 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Awesome tips! I always commuted to school…though when I transferred I rented an apartment right across the street, so sometimes it felt like I was living at school anyway, hahah.

  • September 1, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I had kind of a half/half experience throughout college – lived in an apartment near campus during the week and commuted home at weekends for work/boyfriend duties. Definitely agree that joining clubs etc was the best way to meet new people, and really enjoy the experience!! Great tips Dani 🙂

  • September 1, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    I commuted my freshman year, and while it was hard to get involved sometimes, there were always flyers in our main campus area to let me know what was going on!

  • September 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    I started reading your post going “I’m going to tell her about how I commuted when I was in college!” Then, I got to the middle of the post and saw my name! Completely forgot that I already talked to you about my experiences. 🙂 This is such a valuable post – one I wished had been around when I started commuting!

  • September 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I do online classes, since it’s the only way I can go to school and keep a job. It’s kind of hard sometimes because I feel like I am not involved in a collage experience. However I take great pride in knowing that I am getting an education no matter what. I know in the end it will all be worth it. And for those who go to an actual campus, commuter or not, enjoy every second! Cause I”m jealous!

  • September 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Dani! As a commuter student, I can relate to a lot of these things. I’m trying to spend more time on campus and make more friends. I’ve also gotten into the routine of packing my lunch instead of buying from the food court. A good playlist is a MUST for a commuter, especially if your commute is long 🙂

  • September 9, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Great tips! It’s difficult to get up early enough to get that perfect parking spot though. Especially when you have an hour long commute!

  • January 21, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I am a community college student (my college doesn’t offer on campus housing). With that being said, I feel like I’m still in high school.


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