4. Get a mentor: Students who live in the dorms have built-in veteran support through their residential adviser. For commuters, however, making a connection with a seasoned student isn't as easy as walking down the residence hall floor. Many schools do facilitate mentor relationships before a commuter student begins their first year, so take advantage of the offer early, mentors advise.
"For off-campus students, you want them to have that upper-class resource and face they know," says Horowitz of Philadelphia University, where all commuter students are assigned a mentor. "We want them to know that just because they don't live on campus, they're not going to go by the wayside."
[Get more tips on avoiding common freshman mistakes.]
5. Push yourself out of your comfort zone: Though striking up conversations in class or the student union may feel a little uncomfortable, it's important to force yourself, if necessary, to make connections around campus. Otherwise, you'll be trekking to school solely to take courses and may miss out on a large part of your collegiate experience, NYU's Vatchinsky notes. For him, taking the initiative to form homework groups and find lunch buddies was slightly awkward, but only at first.
"If you're a commuter, you're in charge of forging your own friendship circle," he says. "Ironically, I now know more people than my residential friends, who just isolated themselves to their [residence hall] floor. You have to take the initiative, but I think it pays off if you can follow through with it."
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