11 Tips for Commuting to College: Make the Most of It

Commuting to college is quite the experience. Some people hate it, and some people don’t mind it too much. But really, the commute is what you make of it.

As a former college commuter myself, I thought I’d share some tips that helped me survive my four-year hour commute.

Basically, my commuting tips can be broken down into three sections:

  1. How to Pack Light for a College Commute – Packing light for your college commute isn’t impossible. It simply takes a bit of effort.
  2. The Commuter Essentials You Need – These time-saving commuter essentials come in handy when you least expect it.
  3. How to Use Your Time Effectively – Whether your commute is fifteen minutes or two hours, you can find ways of using your time wisely.

Have pen and paper handy, and let’s get started.

How to Reduce How Much You Carry In Your College Commute

If you’re commuting, the first thing you’ll realize is that how much you carry seriously impacts your commute.

The bigger the bag, the more uncomfortable it is to ride the bus or train. Going from class to class can also be a drag if you’re carrying too many items.

That’s why you need to learn how to pack light on your college commute.

College Commuting Tip #1: Rent a Locker on Campus if You Can

This. THIS. If you don’t use any of my other tips, please, just try this one out. Just for a semester. I swear it’s the only way I managed to survive commuting from home to school.

College Commuting Tip #2: Take Turns Bringing a Class Textbook With Another Classmate

If your budget is too tight and you can’t afford to rent a locker, this is the next best thing. Simply ask someone around you if each week they want to take turns bringing the textbook to class. By alternating every week, it’s fair for everyone and more than one person benefits.

College Commuting Tip #3: Limit the Amount of College School Supplies You Bring

My freshman year I was so excited for college, that I bought multiple notebooks and folders for all my classes. Big mistake.

Don’t fall into this trap. You don’t need separate folders, binders, and notebooks for all your classes. Unless of course, your professor requires it, in which case, I’m so sorry.

But if school supplies are not required, stick to this concise list:

  • a single subject notebook – if you fill it out, guess what? You can get another one!
  • two pens and two mechanical pencils
  • one eraser
  • small planner
  • one binder

College Commuting Tip #4: Lighten Your College Commute By Taking Notes on Your Laptop or Tablet

I didn’t bring my tablet to school unlesss I absolutely needed to. But I understand, sometimes it’s unavoidable and you have to have your laptop handy in order to finish assignments.

My suggestion is if you’re already bringing your laptop every day, why not use it to take notes? This way you can easily print out your notes when you review for tests.

Another tip is to use your tablet for notetaking. It’s lighter, easier to take out and put back, and you don’t need to place it on anything.

Commute Essentials to Have When Commuting to College

I hope the information above will help you with packing lighter on your commute. Moving on, I’d like to mention a few essential items that helped me on my commute. You don’t have to buy them, but if you are looking to update your list of commuting gear anyways, these may interest you.

College Commuting Tip #5: Get Yourself A Waterproof Commuting Backpack

“Waterproof” is the key word here because you need to make sure that your electronics and expensive textbooks survive a sudden downpour. With this fear in mind, I opted for a waterproof commuting backpack to keep my things safe. This commuter bag is spacious enough for all my books and my laptop, and I still use it today.

Commuting backpacks also make organization and accessibility a breeze. Compartments on the outside make it easy to grab your bus pass and phone. Inside pockets help you keep your miscellaneous belongings in check.

College Commuting Tip #6: Don’t Pack Your Lunch in Your Backpack; Use a Separate Bag

This piece of advice comes from my own unfortunate experience. One day I packed a tupperware container with leftover meatloaf and rice. Didn’t seem like it would be a problem.

Boy, was I wrong. I’m grateful that I at least wrapped it in a plastic bag.

Lesson learned: don’t put your lunch in your backpack. I now have a separate lunch box that I sometimes use. I also use a small tote or paper bag.

College Commuting Tip #7: Use a Pouch to Keep Your Personal Items Together

I actually learned this trick from my sister. She has a mesh pouch in her purse, which holds her wallet, keys, chapstick, lotion, and phone. By keeping her items together, she doesn’t have to dig through her bag to get what she needs.

So, if you know that there’s something you need on hand, and you don’t want to rifle through your backpack, I recommend this accessory. I like to keep my wallet, keys, and headphones in a little pouch in my front pocket. It makes it easier to find things.

College Commuting Tip #8: A Tablet with Microsoft Word Is a Lifesaver

Having a tablet with Microsoft Office or Google Word makes typing on the train so much easier. Whenever I see people on the train or bus typing on their laptop, I feel bad for them. It’s not the most comfortable thing to do on a commute, and certainly not the safest. Would you be comfortable using a $1,000 laptop in a very public space?

That’s why if I have to do typing of any sort, I prefer to do it on a tablet. It’s easy to store when you’re done and you have more maneuvering control.

How to Make the Most of Your Time on Your Commute

While it’s tempting to sleep on your commute, there are better ways to use your time on the commute.

College Commuting Tip #9: Do Some Review Reading for Your First Class

I know, this is a boring suggestion, but it’s what a scholar would do. Just revise your notes from the previous class and come up with a few questions for the upcoming class. Sometimes it helps to re-read a day after, that way you soak up the new information. So take this time to time to let the material sink in.

College Commuting Tip #10: Plan Out Your Schedule for the Week

If you want to feel really prodcutive, create your plan for the week while on your commute. This will force you to hold yourself accountable for your tasks. It’s easy to slack off when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. That’s why writting down waht you’ll be doing everyday for the week is the best way to get stuff done.

You may even want to look over your syllabus and make plans for up coming projects. You will always tell yourself that you’ll have time, but before you know it the deadline’s around the corner. Save yourself the stress and make plans to start your project well in advance.

College Commuting Tip #11: Listen to a Podcast and Learn Something New

Here’s a productive way to unwind: listen to an educational, informative podcast in the morning commute. It can be related to your field of study, but it doens’t have to be. There are thousands of podcasts out there, discussing both broad and niche topics. I guarantee you’ll find soemthing you love.

Learning about the outside world will give you perspective on your studies and makes for intresting conversation pieces. Podcast can also help you learn about yourself. If you’re struggling with issues, there are podcasts that talk about that stuff.

Now, Be a Hero to Another Fellow College Commuter

If these tips have been useful to you, please share them with a fellow commuter in need. Don’t let the college commute crush another soul.