Traveling the Road of College and Commuting
Congratulations! The moment you have been waiting for has finally arrived... you are now a member of the University of Maryland community. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, have spent time at a community college or other institution, or have taken time off to work or raise a family, the University of Maryland offers you many enjoyable and engaging experiences. Making new friends, discovering more about yourself and your life goals, being challenged intellectually, and finding your niche in the University of Maryland community are a few of the myriad opportunities that await you.
Proud to Be an Off-Campus Terp
As a commuter student you will become one of 28,857 students (Spring 2010 undergraduate and graduate enrollment) who commute to the University of Maryland by train, bus, car, motorcycle, roller blades, bicycle and/or foot. There are a variety of unique aspects about commuting to campus, such as enjoying one's family while going to school, eating home-cooked meals, being able to enjoy diverse environments throughout your day, and having the opportunity to save money by living with family or friends.
Facing the Challenges
Being an off-campus student can also have its challenges, such as being a new student at a large university, adjusting to academic pressures, making friends and establishing a social life. Other issues include transportation, balancing school, commuting, work, and helping family and friends understand your life as a student.
One thing to remember is that what appears to be a challenge can oftentimes be an opportunity for creative problem-solving, building life skills, and personal growth. Begin preparing now for the challenges ahead, so that you can take steps to make them positive learning experiences.
Making Choices: Know Yourself
Amid the range of opportunities at the University of Maryland, you will engage in much decision-making. You will have to decide which courses to take, who you want to spend time with, how you will be involved in campus life and in the community in which you reside, and when to study and/or work. Having a good idea of who you are and who you aspire to become, the reasons you chose to attend the University of Maryland, and your career aims, will be instrumental in helping you make choices you can be proud of and accomplish your long-term goals.
Now is a good time to think about these goals. What do you want to get out of your experiences here? What are your academic priorities... academics, making new friends, exploring leadership opportunities, engaging in experiences that connect to your career aspirations? What are your values and priorities? Who is important to you? What are your current commitments? How will your responsibilities change now that you are adding the role of being an off-campus student to your portfolio?
Consider creating a list of your values and your personal, academic, and career goals. This list will help remind you of why you are here and what is important to you. Each semester, reread your list and ask yourself if you were able to meet your goals and stay true to your values. You may decide that you want to revise your goals, make some changes in your life, or seek assistance from campus resources so that you may meet your goals in the future.
|Balancing Your Time
Being a student can be a full-time job. When your role as student is added to your other roles and commitments, effective time management becomes important. In addition to being in class, it is important to be realistic about how much time you need to commit to schoolwork. It is expected that you will spend at least two hours of study time per week for EACH credit hour you are registered. For example, if you register for 12 credit hours, you should anticipate that you will need to build in 24 hours of study time. That is a total of 36 hours, which is almost a full-time job!
As you think about ways to effectively manage your time, don't forget to consider your commute to campus. You may find that commuting takes a significant amount of time from your day; therefore, be sure to plan your commute time as part of your schedule. Reduce stress by planning for delays due to traffic, weather, construction, and/or finding a parking space. You may find that during your commute you can listen to books on tape or a recording of a lecture.
If you intend to work while in school, take into account not only the amount of time but the energy that working will require of you. Depending on your job, you may find that working connects well to your future career aspirations or is flexible to allow for some study time.
There are a few questions to ask yourself as you decide on a job while you are a student: Is the job flexible enough so that you may have some time off during peak study times during the semester? Does your schedule allow enough time to get to and from class and your job? Will your employer accomodate your college commitments?
If you are looking for a way to earn some extra money while working in a supportive environment, you may want to try to find an on-campus job. This way, you can work among people who understand the schedules and lives of students, as well as reduce your commute time since you will already be on campus. Finally, by working on campus you may develop an insider's perspective of various departments, services, and resources at the University of Maryland.
Balancing Many Roles: Helping Others Understand
In addition to being a student, you may find that you are still trying to be a friend, employee, colleague, team member, sibling, child, partner, parent, or spouse. Although each of these roles is different, one thing that they each have in common is that they show the ways in which you connect with others. One of the most significant challenges of off-campus students is balancing these roles and helping the significant people in your life understand what it means to have the additional role of being a student.
Your family may expect that you will continue with your responsibilities such as household chores, shopping, cooking, babysitting and earning money the same way you did before becoming a student at the University of Maryland. You and your loved ones may need to discuss ways in which to make the various dimensions of your life work smoothly. For example, you may want to post your class and study schedules in a prominent place so that others may know when you are available.
Even if your family and friends are supportive of your desire to attend school, they may be less excited about having to share your attention and energy with schoolwork and new friends. They may even feel rejected or "left out" by you. You might find it useful to periodically discuss your intentions in going to college. Consider how you can share with them what college is like for you, such as inviting them to attend events with you on campus.
Welcome to the University of Maryland! Follow these links to discover services and resources to help you learn about the University and make a successful transition to being an Off-Campus Terp!
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