Freshman commuter survival guide

Embracing the K pass and your first year

Kristen Buchler, Copy Editor

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After being stuck in high school for four long years, many students dream of an opportunity to assert their independence and start fresh in the next chapter of their lives. Often, this desire leads to moving into a dorm room at a university.

An on-campus residency offers several unique opportunities, such as living within walking distance to (most) classes, being able to go “home” and relax or nap during break periods and being able to see friends with just the turn of a doorknob.

As UT’s packed parking lots show, however, many students have made the choice to commute to campus.

For me, deciding to commute was a no-brainer. I live only 30 minutes away, so it just wasn’t practical in my personal situation to spend thousands on living with a stranger in a room smaller than the one I have at home.

Commuter students definitely live a different college experience than those who live on campus, so if you’re thinking about becoming a commuter at UT, here are a few tips to make your freshman year a success.

1.) Get to campus early, especially on the first day of classes. As you’ll surely find out, parking is competitive, and nobody wants to be stuck on the fifth floor of the East Ramp Parking Garage. Plus, showing up early will ensure that you’re on time for class.

2.) Be prepared to walk. Lots that freshmen are permitted to park in are often the farthest from campus buildings, so keep that in mind. Also, if there’s even a chance of rain, bring an umbrella. Better yet, just keep one in your backpack.

3.) Embrace the “K” Pass. Sure, we’d all love to have an “A” pass and be able to park in faculty lots, but the five minutes of walking that parking somewhere you’re not supposed to saves you isn’t worth the hassle from parking enforcement. Besides, walking across campus every day makes putting on the freshman 15 just a little less likely.

4.) Locate the lot that’s closest to your last class of the day. If, like me, you’d rather have a longer walk prior to your first class so you can make a fast getaway at the end of the day, consider where you’ll be when you’re ready to leave. Getting home to your couch just two minutes sooner makes a world of difference.

5.) Find a place on campus that is your home-away-from-home. Just because you don’t have a dorm room doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a place to go when there’s a lull in your schedule. Some visit the commuter lounge. Others drop by the library. I go to The Independent Collegian office. Pinpoint somewhere where you’re comfortable and enjoy your time on campus.

6.) Enjoy your commute! I often find that the time I spend driving to campus is some of the only time I get completely to myself in the course of a day, and I honestly believe it’s crucial in maintaining my sanity. Some days I crank up my music and sing my heart out, while on other days I sort through the daily mess of thoughts that occupy my brain. Don’t worry, I focus on driving and stuff, too. As a commuter, you’re bound to spend at least some of your time stuck in a car, so make the best of it.

Follow these guidelines and your first semester as a college commuter is sure to be a breeze. Well, probably. I’m a sophomore, not an expert.

Good luck, and happy parking!

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Freshman commuter survival guide