I spent four years commuting to college. Each day I had classes, I drove 110 miles round-trip. When I entered college, I was a mother to one. When I graduated, I had two children. During this time, I took care of a household, as well as working part-time. The tips below helped me to graduate from college with a 3.7 grade point average, in spite of all the other things going on in my life.
Schedule Yourself a Day or Two Off
Rather than driving to school every day, schedule classes for only three or four days a week. This will reduce the amount of gas you have to purchase and will give you a much-needed break. I, personally, always found it easier to go to five or six classes back-to-back on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I enjoyed having days off to write papers or do other activities. If you must schedule classes five days a week, make sure they are grouped together so you only have to go to school in the mornings or afternoons.
Arrive at School Early
Always leave your home at least fifteen minutes earlier than needed to arrive at your first class. Commuters can never anticipate what the traffic will be like. Professors do not appreciate students entering their classrooms late, so leaving early will ensure that you can reach your first class before it begins. Also, if you want to study, arrive even earlier or stay late. It is much easier to get quality study time in at the library on your college campus, rather than at home where you will have more distractions.
Take Advantage of Office Hours
Make a note of when each of your professors holds office hours. If they do not have hours that are convenient to your schedule, do not give up. Most professors are willing to work with commuting college students. If you would like to get together with a professor outside of their scheduled office hours, talk to him or her after class about the possibility of setting up a meeting that will work into your schedule.
Record Your Notes to a Small Tape Recorder
Invest some cash in a handheld tape recorder. When you begin to study your class notes, record yourself reading the notes. Reading the notes aloud will help you retain the information. Then, when you are driving to and from school, you can listen to your notes and get extra study time in. Listening to the notes will help you to remember the information. Using this study tip will ensure that your college commute is not just wasted time. Keep a tape or two for each subject. Rather than recording over the information after a test, leave all previous notes on the tape. When finals roll along, you will be one step ahead with your notes all together.