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Peer Advice: Tips to Manage Commuting in Grad School

Image of sunset while driving

If you are a local living near the Orange County area, commuting to MBKU is a great money-saving alternative to renting housing near campus!

After living on-campus at UC Irvine during undergrad, I decided to commute during my first year at MBKU since my family lives in Riverside (about 30 minutes without traffic). Commuting allowed me to spend more time practicing my clinical skills, making friends with classmates, attending club meetings, exploring the local area, and doing lots of studying.

Here are some tips that I found helpful to maximize my time on-campus as a commuting grad student:

  1. Get to campus early

Try your best to leave home earlier to account for any unexpected traffic, accidents, flat tires, or if you happen to leave something important at home. I usually arrive on campus 15-20 minutes early so I don’t feel rushed and to make sure I get a spot in the parking structure. If the parking structure gets filled, which occurs every now and then, you will have to park at the overflow lot (2001 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831) and wait for the campus shuttle to pick you up every ~15 minutes. On test days, I like getting to campus 1-1.5 hours before the test starts so I can review any last-minute material and make sure I am relaxed before taking the test.

  1. Pack lots of food and try meal-prepping

Make sure you bring lunch and dinner, along with some snacks and caffeine, so you have fuel to tackle the upcoming school day. Meal-prepping helps to save time by only cooking meals every few days, and it also saves money so you don’t have to buy takeout too often.

  1. Find a good study spot on or near campus

The MBKU library, Health Professions Building student lounge, and the Student Union are great places to study on campus throughout the day. If you prefer a quiet spot, these places tend to be quieter in the evening, plus there are study rooms inside the library and on the second floor of the A building. Local coffee or boba shops are other popular study spot options among students. I personally prefer studying in the library cubicles, so I don’t get distracted too much.

  1. Find some friends to study (and take study breaks) with

One quick and easy way to find study buddies is by getting to know classmates that are commuters or those who frequently study on-campus. Even if you prefer to study by yourself instead of with a group, sitting near friends can help you stay focused by holding each other accountable for studying, being able to ask questions on material you are having trouble understanding, and allowing you to take study breaks. Popular study break options include taking a walk around campus, getting snacks from the Student Union, or getting boba, coffee, or dinner together at nearby food places.

  1. Find things to do while waiting out traffic

Other than studying or catching up on lecture material, I highly recommend attending club meetings (if you’re a member of some of these clubs, you’ll get free dinner for attending!), signing up for After-Hours to practice for proficiencies, or hang out with friends. These will help prevent you from getting too overwhelmed or burnt-out from constantly studying and allow you to maintain a healthy active mindset in graduate school. 

I hope these tips helped get some insight into life as a commuting graduate student here at MBKU!