You’re a freshman, fully enrolled, and the semester has begun. Since you’re a freshman commuter, that means that for literally a matter of months, the University has been sending you little bits of information about what your life is going to be like. I’m sure you’ve noticed, it seems like they’ve gone out of their way (sometimes very far out of their way) to make sure that you feel welcome and are fully convinced that you are indeed a fully functioning member of the University community.
If your experience has been anything like my own, you’ve probably stopped listening to people babble on and on about how important it is for commuters to be involved in community activities, or about how you’ll miss out if you only linger on the campus for the duration of your classes. You’ve probably also heard a rant or two about parking. Either way, I doubt you still care about what people have to tell you about commuter life. That’s where I come in.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about being a commuter that might have been overlooked in the information you’ve been given so far.
For one thing, it needs to be said that roads are roads, and, being roads, they are run by the Department of Transportation. That, in turn, means that the roads leading into and out of campus are subject to random, unannounced construction. In other words, life as a commuter demands the constant expectation of delays, hassles, and, over the course of a semester, hours wasted in traffic. Be wary, then, of arriving late to class, or returning late from class.
One way to cut down on that, of course, is to cut down on the amount of traveling you actually do. It is entirely advisable that you spend as much time at the University as you can. This needs to become both your new job and your new home, even if you continue working and living in the same place as in high school. An advisable way to accomplish this would be to make every effort not merely to involve yourself with campus activities, but also to do somewhat simpler things, like eat the occasional meal with classmates, or be sure to find a way to participate in study groups.
I would also like to suggest that you get yourself involved with as much activity as you can. Over the course of the next few years, the University will be a kind of microcosm in your world. For that reason, it would certainly behoove you to be present at such things as the occasional party or movie night. Seek out the other students who are more likely to share your common interests and academic prowess, which is to say, in many cases, they that are largely predisposed toward friendships with you in ways that a more random sampling of University students might not be.
So, commuter life is a special kind of college life in and of itself, but it is not one that necessarily means you will not reap all the benefits of the college experience (as opposed to merely the college education), although you may have to invest more time and effort into doing so than your campus-residing counterparts. At the end of the day, what is most important for you to realize at this juncture is that you are full members of the University community, and that this is now the time for you to live for yourself and by yourself.