With the increase in university fees there has been an increasing trend for prospective students to look at universities closer to home.
There has also been an increase in the number of students deciding to live at home for part / all of their time at university.
The two main benefits of this are
- remain close to your family and home
- save lots of money
I’m from Sheffield and I spent my 3rd and 4th year living at home and commuting into Sheffield University.
This saved me a lot of money which I could then use to go on my elective.
The essential tips I can give for commuting are:
1) Plan ahead
2) Be wise with your money
3) Be motivated and enthusiastic
1) Plan ahead
If you’re travelling by bus, tram and / or train each day, then download the timetables onto your phone so that you can plan what time you’ll need to leave your family home each morning and where each bus stop is and which route it takes etc.
Do a trial journey before you start university – if you have lectures starting at 9am (which generally you will), do a practice commute into university a week or two before you start so that you can identify any issues with your route and maybe even find a quicker / cheaper alternative route.
Remember as well that for lectures you can arrive shortly before they’re timetabled to begin, however if you’re on clinics, you should always arrive at least 15 minutes before it’s scheduled to start (e.g. for 8.45am).
Take things to do on the journey, be this revision, coursework, textbooks, OK magazine, or Angry Birds!
2) Be wise with money
If you’re not wise with your cash, commuting can end up costing nearly as much as living in student accommodation can!
•Consider buying a railcard / bus pass – these can save you a lot of money and may be brilliant for some people.
Students often get discounted travel, and day, week, month, term-time, and annual passes are also available.
Travel South Yorkshire is a very good website for anyone looking to commute to Sheffield (http://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/). Similar travel information websites are available for the area surrounding each university.
•Check if any of your friends are travelling the same way and see if you can travel together. These may be friends from home, or friends you’ve met whilst at university.
•Make a packed lunch – you don’t want to waste any of the money you’ve saved each week on travel passes and buying expensive sandwiches from around the university. Making a packed lunch each evening is both therapeutic and significantly cheaper than eating out 5 times a week.
•Consider buying a car / car sharing. Please note however that whist a car is often a more convenient way to get to and from university each day, and is the best option for some, there are many issues with this. Primarily the cost of buying the car and running it is almost as much as living in student accommodation (if not more), cars also get stuck in the same traffic busses do, and parking can be a big issue.
Generally the university and dental schools are in areas of high parking demand, and this leads to great difficulty finding parking spaces. Once you get to know the area surrounding your dental school better, you may be able to find spots 5-10 minutes walk away which are free for parking.
Alternately you can buy parking permits, though again these can be expensive.
3) Be motivated and enthusiastic
Socially, living at home can make it difficult to spend time with your university friends outside of the dental school, however if you’re motivated, you can still keep socialising with your friends long after the lecture’s finished.
Keys for this are:
• Where possible, try and plan seeing your friends in advance so that you can plan travel arrangements around your social life NOT the other way round!
• Try to be flexible with your commuting – have a good idea what the alternate bus / train times are – e.g. could you get the 6.30pm bus home instead of the 5pm one you normally get?
• Go on as many nights out as you want to, however never feel that you ‘should’ go out.
•Don’t worry if travelling is the most expensive part of your nights out, you’re saving a lot of money by living at home, so provided you go out in moderation, you can balance both socialising and money saving.
• Sharing a taxi all / part of the way with friends can reduce travel costs. You could also stay over at a friends house and travel back in the morning.
• Make the most of your lunches – they are a great time for socialising, and around exam time they are a great opportunity to revise!
• Your university’s students union may run ‘Local Students meet and greet’ events, or may even have a local / commuter student’s society which you can get involved in and meet people through. The link to Sheffield’s local student society is – http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/student/local. This link has lots of helpful information for anyone who is planning to commute from home or is currently commuting from home.
Living at home whilst at university has many benefits, and I often had other students saying to me “If my family lived locally, I would definitely live at home and commute to university”, and I’m sure you will do too!
Have a great time!