Checklist for Commuter Students

Checklist for Commuter Students

Everyone says that starting college is a very exciting part of your life but no one really talks about the stress that comes with preparing for college. There are things you need to figure out such as: will you be living on campus or with family? How will you get to and from school? When thinking of commuting you need to take in consideration a checklist that would make your commuting experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make your commute easier:

Staying Safe

Whether you are commuting by public transportation or by your own vehicle, one of the most important things is staying safe. Sometimes you may stay in school very late and by the time you head home it is dark or you may need to leave home very early in the morning. No matter the time, here are some tips on staying safe:Commuter Students | Dean of Students | Providence College

  • Tools*

Pepper spray, taser and emergency car kit are all helpful tools that can be used during an emergency. Read the instructions on how to properly use these tools and only use them for emergencies. 

  • Emergency SOS programs

Android and Apple have an emergency mode on smartphones to help during difficult situations. Depending on the company, these programs allow you to add emergency contacts, call emergency services and put your phone on ultra power saving mode. 

More information for apple users, samsung, and android users.


Sometimes you are running late and forget to make yourself breakfast or maybe you did not pack lunch. One way to avoid this is by meal planning! There are many ways to meal plan, it is done according to your lifestyle. If you have never meal planned before, here is a some tips for beginners:

 When meal planning, it is important to save on produce! Here are some guides to CalFreshSNAP, and food banks that may be available near you. 


Have a long commute? One of the discouraging things about having a long commute is knowing how to fill in the time. 

  • Listening to a podcast, music, or audiobook  

Student discounts for Apple Music and Spotify

  • Studying

If you have an exam that day, you can review your notes or study guides on the way to school. This is helpful because you are briefly reviewing your notes before your exam to make sure you don’t forget some last minute details. 

Discounted Bus Passes for Students

If you will be taking public transportation to get to and from school, you will need a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass can accumulate but luckily there are programs that offer discounts for students! Additionally, these offers have unlimited rides for your semester/quarter.**What to Know as a Commuter Student | Best Colleges | U.S. News

  • Orange County and Irvine Students
  • Bay Area Students
    • Clipper Card 
      • Will be able to use on Caltrain Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, Muni, SamTrans, etc… Check the FAQ for more information
      • Must have an income level below $89,320

*keep in mind some places do not allow pepper spray, tasers or anything sharp inside their perimeters 

**rules may vary, visit websites for more information

How Volunteering is Beneficial

How Volunteering is Beneficial

Volunteering can help you determine what fields interest you. This can be beneficial if you are unsure of what paths/fields you want to go into or even if you have multiple interests. Now that you know why volunteering is important, where do you start? At first it can be overwhelming because there is no “right” way to begin volunteering or where to look. Look no further! Let’s Go has created this blog to guide you through some steps you can take to find a place for you!

How to Volunteer

  1. Think about fields that interest you. Medicine, education, law? After you have a vague idea, you can begin searching! It does not have to be super specific (remembering that volunteering is for exploring).
  2. Use Google to find organizations near you! A simple google search can reveal cites you may have been unaware of entirely. Try something as simple as “immigration law office near

Explore your interests

If you’re still unsure of your interests, you can volunteer to start narrowing your focus. It’s a good idea to expose yourself to what’s out there. In addition, employers and graduate schools alike value experience strongly; the sooner you find a sector/field to grow in, the more impressive you can be! 

Develop Skills

Now it’s time to enhance your skills! When you begin volunteering, you may find that your responsibilities grow. You will develop skills that school is sometimes unable to teach you. Additionally, these skills are often transferable and can be taken with you at multiple jobs!

Boost your resume

Not to mention, volunteer experience looks great on your resume. It lets employers know that you care about local organizations! Also, it is a good idea to begin volunteering during your high school years or early college years so that you can eventually begin applying for paid internships. 

Make connections

Organizations and companies have tons of connections. belonging to these networks will allow you to have connections within this field that can lead to bigger opportunities. 

Let’s Get Started25 Ways to Volunteer in Your Community

  • First, find your interests:  
    • Brainstorm the fields that interest you. 
  • Then, google organizations near you: 
    • Use Google to find organizations near you! 
  • Finally, send emails: 
    • Now, go to their website and email them to ask about volunteer opportunities. 
    • After finding a contact email, try a template like this:

Template for sending an email

This is just one example to get you started! In addition, you can also search up templates for free on Google. 

” Hello [person you are addressing]!

My name is [your name] and I am a current [grade level] at [your school]. I am writing to express interest in your organization/company. I have always been interested in [the field the organization is in]. Is there space at [organization/company name] for me to volunteer with your day-to-day tasks? 

I would love to chat with you about myself and my current abilities. I look forward to hearing back from you!


[your name] ” 

Ultimately, volunteering helps you gain experience! You got this. Best of luck! Go put yourself out there!

First Gen Grad Guide

First Gen Grad Guide

Print out this checklist when you’re ready to start prepping for graduation! 

Chapter 1: Graduation Check-In 

Prior to starting the academic year, you should have met with your advisor to set up your last semester schedule to keep you on track with graduation. Make sure to visit them one last time to confirm whether all your GE and major requirements will be met by the end of your last semester.

Check-in with your advisor one last time to:

⃞ Ensure all academic requirements and commitments have been met. 

⃞ If you plan to pursue grad school, try setting up a one/three/five year plan to help you stay accountable with your academic goals!


Check-in with your school

⃞ Confirm that you’ve filled out all the required graduation forms correctly (make sure they print your name exactly as you want it to appear on your diploma, and register to participate in the ceremony).

⃞ Purchase all the necessary graduation materials such as…

    • Cap & gown
    • Diploma frame 
    • Graduation picture package 
    • Graduation tickets


Check-in with your family: 

⃞ If your family is traveling from out of town, make sure you communicate with them to set up the right housing arrangements during graduation weekend.

⃞ If needed, book their airbnb/hotel and try putting together a light itinerary for their stay. You’ll be busy preparing for graduation so having them explore campus can be a fun distraction for those times you’re not with them during their visit.


Check-in with your landlord:  

⃞ If you’re moving out after graduation, make sure you let your landlord know about your plans. Set up a move out date and discuss any next steps you need to take before moving

⃞ Get your security deposit back if no damages were made to your living space 

⃞ Keep your roommates in the loop of things and plan any relevant move-out plans with them as well 


Chapter 2: Saying Your Goodbyes 

With graduation season comes a lot of goodbyes… Make sure you make time to thank those who helped you with this achievement!

Reach out to your professors: 

Go visit office hours one last time. Thank them for making a contribution during your time in college and ask to stay connected! They can serve as a potential letter of recommendation for future opportunities. 

Check-in with your current professors about any missing or make-up assignments you should turn in to ensure you end the school year with good grades. 


Reach out to your mentors: 

Stay connected with your mentors/managers. If you have a good relationship with them, they can offer a great letter of recommendation

If possible, drop off a thank you letter in-person for a more thoughtful gesture.

Put in your two-week notices at your current job/internship.

Check-in with your team if there are any last projects you should wrap up to prepare for a smooth transition out of your position.


Lastly, reach out to your friends and celebrate!

⃞ If you have friends who are also graduating, don’t forget to give them their flowers too. Try giving them a thoughtful gift letting them know that you’re proud of their accomplishments as well.

If you have friends that will be moving far, communicate with them about your friendship and ask how they’d want you to show up for them now that you won’t be at the same campus and vice versa.


Chapter 3: Setting your Boundaries

With your family:

Staying on track with your career goals will be time consuming. If you’re moving back home and have additional responsibilities with your family, talking to them about your schedule and capacity can help avoid burnout! 

⃞  Find a time to have a conversation with your family about boundaries and how they can best support you during this new transition

With your friends:

Post-grad will be a new experience for you and your friend group. Celebrate the good moments together but maintain a welcoming space of vulnerability and support as you navigate this new chapter together.

Post-grad can get a bit lonely so stay in touch.

Share your goals and hold each other accountable. There’s so much to look forward to together.

With your-self:

With your well-earned college degree comes new independence. It’s important to hold yourself accountable and set realistic goals during these next few months

Follow a schedule that allows you to prioritize both your career goals and self care

If you dive straight into a full-time job, set at least one hour out of your day to focus on career related tasks outside of your current job. 


Chapter 4: Getting excited about your career choice

Securing A Steady Source Of Income 

Keeping up with this fast-paced job market:

Keep your LinkedIn up to date. LinkedIn and other similar platforms can serve as an extended resume. Attach your LinkedIn profile to your email signature to help catch a prospective employer’s eye.

If you’re using multiple online networking platforms (LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake, etc), download the app on your phone and keep your notifications on to ensure you don’t miss the perfect job opportunity for you!

Setting A Budget For Your Goals and Lifestyle

Understand where your money comes from and where it’s going 

If you took out any student loans, it’s time to start thinking about repaying those loans back… While money can be worrisome during this new chapter of your life, it doesn’t have to be! Explore your repayment plan options and keep an eye out for student loan scholarships.

Once you secure a source of income, start thinking about how much will be going into your savings account and what will be used for bills and other expenses.

Making A Bucket List And Avoiding Burnout:

Always leave some space for a little fun in your life (you deserve it):

You’re going to be working a lot to achieve those amazing career goals. But be careful to avoid burnout! Having a list of fun to-do’s can help introduce a balanced and enjoyable lifestyle.

Coming from a first-gen and low-income family often comes with guilt. Remind yourself that you’re allowed to enjoy things. It’s ok to invest in things that make you happy. Your budget should always allow some space for this.



The Commuter Student Experience & Advocating for Accessible Transportation

The Commuter Student Experience & Advocating for Accessible Transportation

Commuter students are an incredibly diverse group of students. They consist of full-time students living at home, part-time students who live off campus in apartments, or even parents who commute for night classes. Commuter students often have to use various modes of transportation in order to get to school, which includes their own car, bus, or even Uber. A commuter student might have to make sacrifices in order to attend school, which makes it important for colleges to have flexibility for their students. Despite this, there are several benefits for commuter students, as well as disadvantages. 


  1. Saving on tuition – Commuter students tend to live at home with their parents or even in apartments in the city. This is usually much cheaper than paying for housing on campus, with funds going up to even $40,000 a school year. 
  2. More control in schedule – Being a commuter student allows more flexibility in your schedule, you are able to have a job and set your own times for your activities and school work. 
  3. Ensured privacy – Privacy goes out the door once you get a roommate in college. You see each other’s way of living and some boundaries will eventually be broken. Living at home or somewhere else as a commuter student allows you to be fully comfortable in your surroundings.
  4. Comfort and stability – College can be a big step for many students and a big step that not everyone is ready to take. If you still live with your parents you can still have access to comfort and stability central home can provide. This can grant you the confidence in your school life knowing you have a sense of stability at home. 


  1. Traffic – Accessible transportation is often a huge challenge for commuter students, and traffic in transportation is a problem. The lack of routes can often lead to huge traffic when getting to and from school. 
  2. More effort in making connections/friendships/social life – When you live on campus, you automatically get opportunities to make friends and meet new people. Whether it’s your roommates or the people across the hall, you eventually get to know everyone. However, once you’re commuting, you have to put in more effort to make friends. Folks involved in organizations and clubs usually live on campus, so the lack of a social life is a challenge for commuter students. 
  3. Effect on academic performance – the stress and time it takes to commute can take a toll on a student. Often, a commuter student will start to skip class because of the lack of accessible transportation or because they don’t think it’s worth it. This eventually leads to a negative impact on their academic performance. 
  4. Can sometimes be exhausting – Commuting can sometimes be exhausting. Depending on the time of your commute, traffic of your commute, or your mode of transportation. Commuting can take from 30 minutes to 3 hours for some students. Waking up early to get to school and leaving school really late in the day can really put a tax on your mental/ physical state and add excess stress to your school life.


While being a commuter student can make higher education cheaper and more flexible, a prominent barrier that many commuters face is accessible transportation. Convenient and reliable transportation helps commuter students remain in control of their academics without having to worry about getting to class on time. Whether it be public transportation costs or parking permit rates, colleges should acknowledge the barriers commuter students face compared to their on-campus living counterparts. Removing transportation barriers builds a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students regardless of their circumstances. If university officials do not prioritize basic needs such as accessible transportation for their students, it may be up to the public and students alike to advocate for themselves until their needs are met. 


The topic of advocacy may be overwhelming for some. However, there are many opportunities available, some unique to each university and some more applicable to the public, that can help individuals begin to advocate for accessible transportation in their own communities. 

  1. Get involved in commuter support clubs on campus – Joining clubs/organizations tailored towards commuters can help students meet new people with similar situations and expose more opportunities for advocacy directly within their university.
  2. Utilizing public transportation in your city – By using public transportation more often, individuals can help build a support system for the local public transportation programs and this may lead leaders to recognize the public transport demand and improve the current state of public transportation.  
  3. Expressing support for advancing public transportation – Participating in public transportation campaigns and signing petitions concerning the progression in the accessibility and quality of public transportation systems can be an effective way to promote increases in funding and attention towards this objective.  

Commuter student resources:

American Public Transportation Association: LINK

5 Tips To Making Applying to Scholarships Like a Second Job

5 Tips To Making Applying to Scholarships Like a Second Job

Throughout our whole education journey, we constantly hear about scholarships and how
wonderful it is to be awarded one, but we almost never see how to really apply for one.
Depending on the sort of scholarship you are seeking for, the application might be extremely
complex or quite simple. There are many different scholarships available, and the greatest thing
about them is that anybody may apply for one. Some scholarships are only available to members
of particular groups, while others are available to all applicants. Everyone is able to receive one
no matter what, if you put in the work and work hard you will be able to receive one. Let’s go
through a few ways you can look for a scholarship!

1. Research the Types of Scholarships:

● Be knowledgeable about the scholarships you’ll apply to. Do research
if you need to!
● Apply to scholarships that connect with you
– Such as those that speak to your interests, background, and

● Look into scholarships that list your unique traits to help you stand out
from other candidates.

2. Complete All Requirements/Criterias:

● Make sure to read all of the scholarship details.
● Read carefully (don’t miss deadlines or requirements).
● It is essential to complete every part.

3. Exceed:

● If possible, turn in ahead of time, to prevent missing deadlines.
● Go above and beyond in your responses.

● Apply to as many scholarships as possible, don’t rely on just one!
● List unique traits about yourself! Don’t be afraid to be your own

4. Have Documents at Hand & Ready to Use:
● Letters of Recommendation
● Resume (updated and polished!)
● Get advice on your writing piece
– Have a few people revise your work.

5. Check in On the Scholarships:

● Follow up with any requirements that may be needed or missing.
● Check your emails regularly.
● Get in contact if necessary.

Last Note:

Make sure you’re authentic to yourself and just apply, you don’t lose anything!

How to Network With Professors on a College Campus

How to Network With Professors on a College Campus

Building a relationship with your professors has many benefits for your academic and career success. Connecting with your professors will allow you to have a strong academic connection for the future, you will be able to ask them for letters of recommendation, and you will be having a better workflow. Since they will be able to see the effort you are putting into the class as well as they can help you with future assignments. 

Start by introducing yourself on the first day of the course. Introduce yourself, what you are majoring in, and the year you are being attentive at the college or university that you are in. Lastly, show how much you are appreciative of being in their course and that you would hope to learn more from it. Another option would be to send them an email introducing yourself such as your major and how that class is related to your major, why you are interested in that class, or anything you would like to bring up. It should not be a stressed component but rather have fun and play around with the email and how you would want to present yourself. It is really important to connect with your professors, especially if you may be virtually learning with them online. If you are an online learner, you would need to meet these same adjustments. 

Weekly office hours

The place where you are able to strongly connect with your professor is through office hours. During the first-week professors will send out their syllabus where office hours will be located and at the time they are available as well as the time that the teacher assistants are available. It is suggested and highly encouraged to attend them because it allows you to ask questions in a small group and discuss class materials which can help with future class material. Professors will also take that into account since it is very common for students to not attend office hours. Although this is extra time and students can see it as wasteful and choose not to attend it has many positive benefits. Most students are afraid to attend office hours, only because they are mostly afraid to ask for help. Most students feel that they don’t need office hours so they encourage themselves not to go. Attending office hours regularly even if you do not need to attend them. Attending office hours can make you more efficient in your future assignments, and also can prepare you for your quizzes and exams. 

There may be times when to meet with your professor during office hours on their syllabus. Email your professor on the days, and times when you can come into their office hours to check-in. Professors can tend to be busy, you can also email your course TA for further information on the times that you can meet with your TA or your professor. They are both there to help you academically for the course. Email the professors a couple of days earlier before the due date of the assignment.


Tips for Networking with your Professors 

– Work with your schedule to set aside a time to meet with your professors. – Research more about your professor through the University Website so you get an idea of the professor’s specialized field. 

– Remember that professors are there to work with you and help you. 

– It’s always helpful to write down questions to ask your professors before attending office hours, so you can have more of a clarification of being in the course of what you are learning in that particular assignment. 

– Professors are connected with the school and will send opportunities that they are open to sharing.



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Advancing College Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Students

Advancing College Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Students

Building a strong prison-to-school pipeline is necessary as we continue fighting for equal access to higher education. As more institutions begin to diversify their student populations and highlight the several student identities that tend to overlap, there is still one group that is often left out of many significant conversations — those who have been negatively affected by the carceral system. Formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted students are often left feeling unwelcome in spaces of higher education because of the many barriers present for them. Barriers to college access include background checks and inadequate student services, leading to a decrease in retention rates amongst this student population. A justice-impacted student includes someone at risk of being incarcerated or who has been formerly incarcerated, someone who has been legally, economically, or familially affected in a negative way by the incarceration of a close relative; this also includes people who have been arrested, and/or convicted without incarceration.


While it is important to note that higher-ed institutions still have a lot to learn when it comes to serving justice-impacted students, there are current programs already in place dedicated to helping such students succeed. These programs are essential and vital to increasing retention rates amongst formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted students. 


Here is a list of current programs available: 


CC Level: 

CA Community Colleges: Rising Scholars Network

To find further information on a specific Community College 

use this program directory to learn more:  

Rising Scholars Network Program Directory 


CSU Level: 

Currently, 14 CSU campuses have Project Rebound programs working with formerly incarcerated students. To find information on a specific college campus, scroll down to the bottom page 

Cal State University: Project Rebound


UC Level: 

Currently, there are 9 UC campuses that have the Underground Scholars Initiative working with formerly incarcerated scholars throughout the state. We have listed the main page to learn more about the program’s mission and history along with links to each UC chapter available across CA. 

The Underground Scholars Initiative 



Link to Join:



Bruin Underground Scholars Program Website:

Bruin Underground Scholars Program Email: 

USI UCLA Student Org Email:



Facebook: USIatUCI




Facebook: Underground Scholars Initiative, UCR

Twitter: @undergroundSch3



Facebook: Underground Scholars Santa Barbara 


Website: and









Intake Form:


Edith Ramirez, Underground Scholars Program Coordinator

    Undocumented Student Resource Centers

    Undocumented Student Resource Centers

    Higher education institutions in California have established statewide programs to provide resources for undocumented students. These programs offer support for applying to the California Dream Act, AB 540 information, scholarships and even more. The type of resources these programs provide varies widely across campuses and it can be different within the same segment of higher education. Some California campuses have physical centers while others don’t. The center or programs do not necessarily need to have the word “undocumented” in its name, you can also look for dreamers, dream or multicultural. Use this interactive map to learn about resources at each California campus.

    student resource centers for undocumented students

    Disability Services for Students

    Disability Services for Students

    Students who attend public colleges and universities are protected against disability discrimination by Title II under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many campuses are equipped with offices and services for college students with disabilities. The goal of these offices and services is to address accessibility, accommodation, and assistive technology for a diverse range of needs.

    To begin receiving accommodations you must first register as a student with disabilities, this is done with the disabilities service office in your school. Disabilities offices have instructions for how to register for services on their website. Remember the name of the office does not necessarily need to have the word “disability” in its name, you can also look for words such as access, equity, or accommodations. You also need to provide evidence of a disability to get accommodations but remember that disclosing your disability to your school is completely optional. 

    Examples of disabilities are, but are not limited to: 

    • Neurological conditions
    • Sense organ impairments
    • Musculoskeletal impairments
    • Emotional or mental illness
    • Respiratory conditions
    • Digestive ailments
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Organic brain syndrome 

    However, you will need to disclose this information if you wish to receive academic adjustments. All colleges receiving federal funding must ensure equal access to students with disabilities, meaning they have to provide “reasonable” accommodations. 

    Here are some typical academic adjustments institutions provide:

    • Sound amplification aids
    • Speech to text software
    • Accessible testing locations
    • Note-taking services
    • Priority class registration
    • Sign language interpretation
    • Course substitutions