It’s 8:52 a.m. I grab a hat and my backpack and I walk seven minutes to campus. I sit down just in time for class to start. Behind me sits another student who is wide-awake and ready to go. The difference between the student behind me and myself is my commute was seven minutes; their commute was nearly an hour.
Some students are lucky and do not have to drive a long way to get to class. Then there those commuting from Ivins, Enterprise and even Cedar City.
Students at Dixie State University are from a variety of communities in the southern Utah area. It is clear, after talking to three students who make a daily commute, the college experience is different for students living outside the vicinity of St. George
” I just have to do things a little differently than most students,” said Dillon Hurt, a junior business administration student from Ivins. “I have to plan more extensively and fit that into a different sleeping schedule because of the distance I drive.”
Planning is done differently, academic work needs to be taken care of at odd hours, and out-of-the-box techniques are used to maintain a healthy academic experience.
Trey Davis, a junior communication major from Cedar City, has to be more meticulous with his daily preparation. If Davis has a class that starts at 9 a.m. then he must leave at 8 a.m. He also must make sure he has a lunch prepared and everything he needs for the day. All this must be done early in the morning or the night before after arriving home from DSU.
“I leave an hour before my morning class starts,” said Davis. “The commute is not easy, but by the time I finally get to St. George I am ready to go.”
Davis leaves about an hour early and while driving he listens to lectures from class the day before that he has recorded.
“It is definitely an adjustment,” Davis said. “When my wife and I moved to Cedar City I intended to attend Southern Utah University. I quickly realized [SUU] did not have a film program, so I made the decision to commute [to DSU] and I have not looked back.”
Like Davis and Hurt, commuting students must be thorough planners. Unlike me, they cannot just run home quickly to grab an assignment left on the counter.
“It’s not like I can forget something,” said Hurt. “I mean that would be nice, but I have to plan so that does not happen.”
Karin Tucker, a freshman nursing major from Enterprise, is a single mother of three kids. Having to be a master at planning and executing her plan has made Tucker further appreciate her role as a mother and a student.
“The drive can be relaxing, but it is also time consuming,” said Tucker. “[Commuting] forces me to have a plan and stick to it. It also eliminates a lot of study time, so I have to stay disciplined.”
There also other things to consider that non-commuting students may not consider, like the impact on grades and the feel of college life.
“Because of the drive, I leave early, pack a lunch and bring extra clothes,” said Hurt, . “Because I am away from a lot of the action on campus, it feels like I am missing out on the college experience. On the other hand, I do get really good grades.”
Even with hours in between classes, these students must stay at the school and make the most of their time. Where a student like myself might just zip home for snack, Davis must have already planned for that in advance.
“Most of the time I try find a quiet place and get almost everything done before heading home,” said Davis. “If I wait until I get home to do homework, I might be too tired to do it.”
There are positives and negatives to having to commute to school; the secret is planning effectively and making the most the driving time.
Tips to maintaining a quality college experience for students who commute:
-Plan your wardrobe carefully in case you need to change
-Record lectures from your classes and listen to them while driving
-Plan and prepare weekly meals
-Stay after class and do homework at the school instead of waiting until you get home
-Leave earlier so traffic won’t make you late