Commuting to College: 4 Tips for Making the Most of Your Class Schedule
Living off-campus as a college student has its benefits and challenges. Commuter students can maximize their time by being mindful of how they set up their classes and schedule out their day. Here are four tips that can help you create a weekly routine for your academic and personal life.

1. Choose a Schedule That Works for You

Hanna Sayegh ’20, a commuter student at Azusa Pacific University and intern in the Office of Commuter Life, noted that roughly 80 percent of the school’s commuters juggle multiple jobs. However, she said that even if students don’t plan to work while commuting to college, it’s a good idea they create a class schedule that works for them.

“Most undergraduate commuter students come in early and take all their classes on either Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” Sayegh explained.

Coordinating classes so you only need to come to campus a few days a week, or for just a couple hours every other day, can help free up space in your schedule. That’s time you can use to get ahead on coursework, tend to the rest of your responsibilities, or attend on-campus social events, which can help you experience student life and meet other people.

"The best way to have the college experience is to find connections and be involved on campus," Sayegh said. Scheduling your classes to create more free time can open up opportunities to connect with your college community.

2. Factor in the Time It Takes to Travel (and Park)

When choosing your class schedule, it’s a good idea to build in some buffer time. You want to have enough of a cushion before your first class of the day to account for unexpected traffic or personal issues.

Sayegh noted that she would even encourage commuter students to consider the time it takes to navigate parking, and think about not just how early, but how late they want to be on campus, especially if they take public transportation.

“If you need a place to hangout in between classes, the Cougar Dome is a great space to relax, study, and meet other commuters,” said Brittany Billar, associate dean of engagement. She also suggests taking advantage of APU’s complimentary transportation program, which provides all students with a free Foothill Bus pass. “You can pick up your Foothill Bus tap card in the Cougar Dome,” she advised.

3. Take Advantage of Your Commute

Whether you drive or take public transportation, you can get creative and use your commute time to advance your study efforts! To use your commute to your advantage, you can use library rentals (or library apps) to listen to audiobooks and review course materials. Apps like Hoopla and Overdrive make it possible to turn your travel time into a study session.

Mila Reyes ’21, a commuter student and current intern of the Office of Commuter Life, recommends making recordings of lecture material so you can listen to your notes on the road. She says, “Commuting often takes study time away from me but listening to recordings helps me earn some study time back. Recordings especially come in handy when I need to study but also need to work out.”

If you take public transportation, it’s also a good idea to keep a physical copy of the book with you, so you can note important sections to reference in essays later.

4. Use the Time In Between Your Classes

Even if you only have 20 minutes between classes, you can use that time wisely by reviewing your notes, brainstorming angles for an upcoming essay, or making study guides. For longer breaks, you can utilize on-campus services such as the campus Writing Center to get a head-start on projects and assignments.

If you have a mix of online and in-person classes, you can use this time to read and reply to class discussion forums. As a busy student, you have many tasks that need to get done each week. One way to feel like you are in control of your time is to list out your 10-, 20-, and 30-minute tasks. Even huge projects like an essay can be broken down into smaller bite-sized pieces!

Having this list in your phone or planner can help you stay focused and productive when you’re short on time. For example, if you only have 10 minutes to spare, making two flashcards or emailing a classmate about your group project will be more productive than checking in on social media. Completing school tasks between classes will also give you more free time once you get home!

Did you know that Azusa Pacific University has an office just for commuters? The Office of Commuter Life is a great spot to connect with other students, grab one free coffee and snack per day, and even access free essentials you might have left at home.