With about 16,000 students attending classes at Kean University, around 80% of those students are commuters.
The life of a commuter and the life of a resident come with their own advantages and their own struggles.
But there is more to a commuter student than just the battle of finding a parking space. What about finding time for lunch, carrying books and materials from class to class and even scheduling classes conveniently?
Four commuting students at Kean shared some of the tips and tricks they have learned throughout their time here to combat some of the difficulties commuters may face on a daily basis.
Junior accounting major Alex Noriega is a commuter student on the soccer team. He has some tips about parking to share with his fellow commuting peers:
1. Arriving before 9:30 a.m. guarantees a parking spot
2. Communicate with friends about when their classes are over and wait for their parking spots to open
3. Offer rides to students in exchange for their parking spots
"Get here early or late in the day or else parking anxiety will be a burden the whole semester," Noriega said.
Noriega's teammate and senior environmental biology major Carmine Colasurdo suggests following people in the parking lot who look as if they may be leaving or asking them if they are leaving. He also added that staying near a car that is still on might mean they will be leaving sometime soon.
Kean graduate student Alix Denison is in the process of completing her first year in the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Program.
She works at the Barnes and Noble Cafe in the Green Lane Academic Building (GLAB), is one of the assistant coaches for the Kean women's volleyball team and is also a member of Kappa Upsilon Nu - Chi Sigma Iota Organization (the M.A. in Counseling Honor Society).
When it comes to parking, Denison suggests arriving early and being patient.
"Park at East Campus or the STEM Building parking lots and take the trollies to buildings on main campus," Denison said.
Sophomore global fitness and wellness major Julia Heller is a commuter who also works part-time at a hair salon and is a sister of the sorority Theta Phi Alpha.
As this is only her first semester as a commuter student, she has not figured out any tricks for parking yet.
Although he does not now, Noriega has carpooled with friends or classmates in the past whenever the opportunity to do so was available. Through this, he was able to save gas.
Denison carpools with her roommate when they have classes at the same time.
When it comes to scheduling classes, Noriega insists that students should strategically plan them in order to leave room for buying food on campus or to bring to class.
"Since I play a sport, I'm on campus almost every day so I use that to help spread out my class work load but always try to have a day off to save gas and sleep in," Noriega said.
Although it is preference of the commuter student, typically most commuters prefer to drive the least amount of days, so stacking classes into several days makes it the most convenient, as per Noriega.
"As a commuter, it is probably better to schedule morning classes so you can find parking easily," Colasurdo said.
Like Noriega, he also recommended leaving time for lunch within the daily schedule of the commuting student.
Colasurdo added that students do not want to leave too much down time for themselves between classes.
"Don't give yourself too much free time unless you are able to go home or stay in a dorm with a friend between classes, otherwise you will be very bored," Colasurdo said.
Denison prefers stacking her classes into several days, as she saves time and gas while having the availability to work on days that she does not have class.
"Even though it was long days, it was rewarding to know that I only had to go to campus three times per week rather than all five if they were spread out," she said.
Heller likes to schedule her classes somewhat back to back so that she does not have to wait around campus all day.
Textbooks & Materials
When it comes to bringing textbooks and other items needed throughout the typical school day, Noriega suggests prioritizing what books need to be brought to class and parking as close to the location of the class as possible. This way students can stop at their car to change books and avoid lugging around extra weight.
Typically Denison tries to have her textbooks accessible on her tablet or computer so that she does not have to carry much from place to place.
"If I do have a lot of material and a decent amount of time between classes, I plan accordingly with what I leave in my car and what I take to class," Denison said.
Cougar Dollars & Buying Food On Campus
Colasurdo utilizes a meal plan with Cougar Dollars as he typically purchases food from the Miron Student Center (MSC) Cafeteria.
"However I usually run out quickly because a lot of things are expensive," Colasurdo said. "It helps me on campus."
Denison does not use a meal plan with Cougar Dollars, therefore when it comes to food, as a pescatarian (a person who does not eat meat, but does eat fish), she normally brings her own lunch.
"But when I forget it, the Barnes and Noble Cafe has great vegetarian and vegan lunches for sale that are super yummy and don't break the bank," Denison said. "The Cougar's Den also has a lot of healthy choices."
Although Heller usually brings her lunch to campus, if she does not, she will buy from the Cougar's Den or Jersey Mike's.
For those less inclined to purchasing food on campus, students can choose to bring their lunch and snacks from home. There are microwaves in the Barnes and Noble Cafe in GLAB as well as outside of the MSC Cafeteria.
Commuters' favorite foods and snacks on campus:
Noriega: Chocolate filled croissant, bag of chips and Gatorade
Colasurdo: Pasta and Jersey Mike's
Denison: MSC Cafeteria salad bar or vegetarian and vegan options at the Barnes and Noble Cafe (specifically the quinoa mix and kale salad)
Heller: Jersey Mike's
Commuter Resource Center (CRC)
The commuter students interviewed were not aware that Kean now offers a Commuter Resource Center, which offers services to commuter students including, but not limited to, providing commuter lockers and maintaining study areas and lounges.
More information about the services offered at the CRC can be found on the Kean University website.