Six steps to resolve student-commuter dilemmas

by Ashley Williams

Commuter students face a unique set of problems on a daily basis. While students living near campus have a more seamless existence between school and home life, commuters need to put more thought into thriving at San Diego State. Follow these six steps to make commuting a breeze.

1. Pack like a pro—your car is your locker

Packing for the day is incredibly important when you can’t just run down the street to pick up a forgotten assignment. Consider what’s on the agenda for the day, as well as any circumstances that might arise. Throw a gym bag in the trunk in case you need to kill time and are inspired to work out. It’s usually best to bring more homework materials than you think you’ll need, so you have access to them if need be.

Food is also important when it comes to being prepared for the day. Spending money on campus for food everyday is like saying, “I don’t think I pay enough for tuition, books, gas and parking. I think I should spend too much money on food that I’m not all that interested in eating in the first place.” Yes, sometimes you’ll need to be comforted by a Vinnie’s pasta bowl, but it’s far better to pack your own meals on most days.

2. Get good parking—no matter what it takes

This is potentially the most crucial step for the commuter student. With such a reliance on your car, you never want to be too far from it. One of the most central places to park is the top floor of Parking Structure 4. This puts you about as close to the library as possible.

Unfortunately, good parking spots are highly sought-after commodities at SDSU. The ambitious commuter student may have to get to campus extra early to secure a worthy spot. If you get to campus after 9:30 a.m., forget about PS4. PS5, by Peterson Gym, is a long shot after 10 a.m. If you show up after 10:30 a.m., park by the residence halls in PS3 and try to appreciate the exercise.

3. Get a gym membership—even if you have no intention of befriending the treadmill

A membership at the Aztec Recreation Center can be extremely valuable to commuter students. It not only provides a place to exercise, but also a place to shower, get ready, charge a phone and even play video games.

The ARC may be the closest thing to a home while you’re on campus. Try leaving for school early, working out and then getting ready at the ARC. You’ll have your premium parking spot secured and be ready to start the day right.

If you are taking public transportation to school and don’t have a car to stash your things in, the lockers in the gym can be a great place to store your belongings on long days. Just remember to bring a padlock or rent a locker there.

4. Be selective on what you carry around with you—unless you are hoping to develop a Quasimodo hump

A classic rookie commuter mistake is to stuff a backpack full of all the things you need for the day. Poor choice. Try to think through the day ahead of time. A better idea is to have everything in your car and to make trips as needed if you have gaps between classes.

Carting around heavy and unnecessary objects will only increase feelings of disdain for the commuter life.

5. Find a variety of study spaces so you don’t become the weird guy who sleeps, eats and studies in the 24/7 Area 24/7

It’s easy to dart to the 24/7 Area when you need a place to plant yourself during a gap between classes and activities, but it also grows monotonous. Mix it up by alternating your study spots so it doesn’t feel as if you live in the library.

For example, there’s a lesser-known space in the basement of the Professional Studies and Fine Arts building with tables for studying. Plus the walls are covered with old and official-looking books, which really boost the study vibe. Another good building to spend time in is Arts and Letters. Almost all of the floors have chairs and desks next to large windows, and the fifth floor has a beautiful view. If you find yourself near Peterson Gym, there’s a wall of fairly comfortable couches and a steady stream of athletes for your viewing pleasure.

6. Make friends with people who live near school

Even with proper preparation, there will still be instances when you need some off-campus downtime or a friend’s place to crash at after a long night. One of the problems associated with commuting is having a difficult time making friends. It’s hard when you don’t have the luxury of living with pals in the epicenter of San Diego’s college scene, but it is doable and will make the commuting experience much more pleasant.

Your experience as an Aztec will be better all around if you are aware of the resources available at SDSU. If you know where to eat, sleep and study, problems won’t be as difficult to tackle.