The Life Lessons You Learn After Being A College Commuter

Amanda Pena
Amanda Pena is one of those bridge and tunnel people that frequents the city for her job and the Chipotle on every other block. She hopes to be the next Cheryl Strayed and touch people's lives through her writing and/or find the best prosciutto deli in Manhattan.

Everybody wants that typical college experience, but not everyone gets it.

I commuted all throughout my college career. I worked part-time jobs on the weekend, and had three internships in two years. My days were exhausting from waking up almost three hours earlier to arrive into my corporate internship at 9 AM, passing out on the bus ride home while shamelessly drooling on my neighbor, and then coming home to study and crash – just to do it all over again the next day. Does this sound familiar, my fellow commuters?

How many times have you cursed your situation underneath your breath for having to shove four to five classes in one day so you could use the other days to work at Starbucks?

How many rings of dark circles had a permanent place on your face, not from crazy nights of partying, but from nights studying till all hours?

I get it. To the outside world, we’re aliens who missed out on the true college experience because we didn’t dorm. Though, despite the shortcomings of commuting, there are a lot of positives that came out of our commuter days. Here are the top five lessons commuting teaches you about life:


1. Time Management

Time is so precious when you’re a commuter. Forcing four to six classes to coincide with your work schedule and internship schedule is an art; an art that should be celebrated called, “time management.” In the future when you’re trying to juggle work life and a personal life and all that falls in-between, you’ll thank those commuter days for teaching you how to make the most out of those 24 hours.


2. Keep Moving

Dealing with disappointment was my motto in college – “I can’t stay late on campus because I have to be back in time to get up for work the next day….” Every day was a constant reminder that I was missing out and that this stage of my life was hard and stressful. But it also made me a stronger person.

In the future, when things don’t work out the way they were planned or something falls through, I know how to dust that dirt off my shoulder, get back up, and be on my way.


3. Responsibility

Commuting made me rip that childhood bandaid off. I didn’t just have professors who relied on me for assignments and decent grades, but I had my boss at my internship and my boss at my job who depended on me. This dependence made me realize that my actions don’t just affect me, but everyone around me.


4. Decision Making

As we move into adulthood, it’s hard to understand that mom or dad won’t be scheduling our doctor’s appointments anymore. I’ve had to make so many decisions on the fly when I commuted because when you’re moving so fast, you don’t have time to seek out counsel.

From a bus getting delayed and figuring out which method of transportation to take next, to talking with financial aid or advisors discussing my next steps, I was constantly grappling with sudden life decisions. This quick decision-making process is something that I’ve carried with me into life after graduation, and it makes me rely less on my parents.


5. Patience

For every hard day a commuter has had, they know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Just because we missed out on those Tuesday night beer pong tournaments doesn’t mean that we won’t get our fun later. Keep on keeping on. Those years of hard work and sacrifice will pay off. Your time is coming.

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