College is hard and there is no getting around that. It does not matter if you attend the prestigious university or just go to community college first, each institution comes with its own set of challenges. As a commuter student, or someone who does not live on campus and has to travel varying distances each day to attend, the college experience can quickly become isolating and unrewarding.
The first step to avoid this is to thoroughly explore your campus. A lot gets left out on campus tours and your classes will most likely be concentrated in the area related to your major. It’s important to spend that extra time to walk around and figure out where the different student services offices are located and hopefully stumble across your favorite corners to study or relax in. I have discovered statues and unique pieces of architecture I didn’t even know existed on campus until the last week of college!
The second step is to familiarize yourself with the extra services that your universities offer and are being paid for by those fees! Stop by in every office and see what they have, figure out which areas of campus may be better to eat at, and what you can take advantage of off campus as well. We had a lawyer who would draft up a free will, something that never hurts to have, a list of shops and entertainment areas nearby with student discounts, prescription discount cards at the student health clinic, and more. Not all of these will be apparent or even available online. Knowledge is power.
The third step is to get involved. I’m sure you have heard that before but not every club or organization will turn out to be worth your time. Invest the first two weeks of the year to attend every club meeting and event to see which ones you will actually enjoy and are active. Ask which clubs students in your classes are involved in as not every club will have an open policy and an easy way to join on the university website. Attend every free event and get all the free food you can and use the facilities such as the gym! You are paying for it and will meet students from with different majors this way too.
And finally, talk to the people in your class. This is hard to do and you’ll be tired after driving all the way there, but it is worth it in the end. If you are not vibing with someone, switch seats and talk to someone else. Keep moving until someone clicks, and make sure you put in the effort to hang out outside of class with them. It is the only way you will make memorable, life long friends.
This is all difficult if you are working as well, like most students are. However, in the long run that effort will pay off. You never know who you will meet and you may not get the chance to meet people around your age like that after graduation, so make the most of it!