Being Involved On Your College Campus As A Commuter Student
I lived off campus my entire undergraduate career. My first year and a half were spent living with my parents a half an hour from campus. The rest of the time I have been fortunate enough to live with my fiancé a few minutes from campus. My recommendation, no matter what your commuting situation, is to get involved. While it is certainly possible to obtain a degree without being involved with school activities, you gain more from your college experience if you are involved and get more for your money.
There are ways to be involved even if you hold a busy course schedule. I have always had eighteen credit semesters that consisted of ten or more classes, while I wasn't involved in everything, I found ways to be involved that were helpful to my learning and my career goals. For example, I participated in leadership conferences put together by the university that helped me gain multicultural perspectives as well as fundraising ideas for my future as a music educator. I used my habit of taking detailed notes to get involved with the collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education as secretary for a year.
Another way of becoming involved with campus is through interactions with faculty members. I think that it is extremely beneficial to get to know your faculty. Faculty members have great perspectives on future career choices as well as great advice and stories about life in general. I would suggest meeting with various members of your faculty that interest you because they can be your greatest allies when you are struggling with coursework or are simply having a rough day.
I also recommend getting to know a few students outside of your designated major, particularly if your major is as tight knit as mine is. It is good to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people about other interests that you might have.
Finally, my last piece of advice, no matter your major, is to spend time on campus. I used to be the type of student that went home on my lunch breaks and hid away to do my work while at school, and while I did get a lot of work done it was a very lonely life style. When I started hanging out in the student lounge I was able to learn a lot about people and participate more in my learning community. I wish I had done that in my early years as an undergraduate.