I went to a commuter school and lived off-campus through my college years, so I know that commuting to campus can definitely make you feel like you’re not a part of the on-campus community. But there are actually many ways for commuter students to get involved on campus, and get in on the on-campus school spirit. And as an added bonus, you’ll probably make a few new friends in the process!
Like so many people, I had to work throughout college, so I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on campus aside from going to my classes — and believe me when I say that I know just how awkward it can be when the people in your classes all live in the dorms, and already know each other while you’re just going to and from school, especially if you’re living in a whole new place. It’s extra hard to meet friends and feel excited about your school if you’re not invested in being on campus.
Remember that feeling you had when you first got accepted into college? Where you wanted to buy everything with your school’s logo on it, and tell everyone about your campus? You can keep that feeling as a commuter student, if you put a little effort into getting involved. Here's how.
1. Join Greek life
I went to a commuter school where Greek life is popular, and pledging a fraternity or sorority is a great way to make friends and get involved. Most Greek chapters are about community service, sisterhood, and academics, but obviously do your research before pledging to find a sorority or fraternity that's the best fit for you.
2. Join a club or intramural sport
If the Greek scene isn’t your style, you could try joining an on-campus club or intramural sports team. Most schools will have a list of available clubs and teams on their websites, so take a look at what your campus has to offer. I’ve seen everything from anime to geology clubs, so you’re bound to find something that piques your interest. Plus, you can go into it knowing you’ll be among like-minded people. As for intramurals, this is also a great way to get a workout in with your fellow students.
3. Go to campus events
My campus hosted a slew of events throughout the year, from a massive concert at the beginning of the school year — Neo performed my freshman year — to Dodger game trips, and I’m sure your campus will have plenty of fun activities for you to join too. It might be scary to go to a big event (or even a small one) alone, but sometimes that’s the best place to meet people. And if you really don’t want to go alone, ask around in your classes to see if anyone you’re friendly with is going or would want to go.
4. Work on campus
Hey, we all need those dolla dolla bills, y’all. On-campus jobs not only pay, but they typically have very flexible hours, and will let you connect with staff and students alike. Working in the bookstore or answering the phones in your major’s department office might not seem glamorous, but you’ll have to talk to people all day, and you’ll be on campus for more than just your classes. You’ll also feel a stronger connection to your school, since you’ll be one of the people making sure things are getting done.
5. Start a study group
Ever watch Community? Remember how awesome their study group turned out to be? If you’re having trouble in a class, or you just want an excuse to hang out with people, think about starting a study group. You guys could meet in the library or student union once a week to go over assignments, the past lecture, or just share some notes. Who knows? After a while, maybe an hour of studying will turn into an hour of hanging out afterwards.
6. Take advantage of your campus facilities
I was lucky enough to go to a school that had an awesome health center, and a brand new fitness complex. As a commuter, it might not seem as easy to use these types of facilities as your on-campus classmates, but it might help you feel more connected. If your doctor, pharmacy, and gym are all on campus, you’ll need your campus for more than just academics.
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