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 to Create a College Application

How to Create a College Application

Applying to college can be overwhelming as there is not one application for all schools. Many different schools and systems require different applications and it could be challenging to keep track of all of the details and requirements. College Unfiltered is introducing “A Guide to Creating a College Application”, to help fellow high school seniors with college applications as well as how to choose your college and major. Other information that you can find includes the personal essay questions found on the common app, tips for international students, and more information on the coalition app. 


For access to the full toolkit, visit College Unfiltered’s website.

Choosing an institution that fits your values

Choosing an institution that fits your values

What draws you to an institution? Is it their prestigious name, the fact that they serve first-generation college students, or how diverse their student population  is? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when deciding where to apply to college/university. College Unfiltered (CU) has put together a toolkit to help you find and choose a university that best suits you. “All About Value” discusses an important resource: College Scorecard. College Scorecard is a website created by the U.S. Department of Education and it allows applicants to compare colleges on standardized metrics. Other factors to take into consideration when choosing an institution include  whether you are a first-generation student, as well as what ethnic background and identity(s) you hold . College Unfiltered discusses all of these factors and more on their toolkit. 


For access to the full toolkit, visit College Unfiltered’s website.


All About Money – Financial Literacy During the College Application Process

All About Money – Financial Literacy During the College Application Process

When choosing an institution to complete your higher education, there are several factors that you need to consider. One of them being the financial aid and scholarship options available to students. College Unfiltered (CU) created “Let’s Talk Money”, to help you develop your financial literacy during the college application process. Here, CU talks about several topics ranging from loans to endowment, and misconceptions of estimated family contribution (EFC).

  • Endowment: Monetary and financial asset donations from alumni and companies to colleges and universities. Most endowment money is used to  fund public research, teaching, and some is allocated to funding scholarships and grants.
  • Scholarships: Money that does not need to be repaid! You can find scholarships through your institution or outside sources.
  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application to receive financial aid from the federal government. FAFSA will also help you find your expected family contribution (EFC), this number determines your eligibility for certain types of financial aid. 
  • Loans & Generational Debt: Money that does need to be repaid. 


For access to the full toolkit, visit College Unfiltered’s website.

Benefits of Starting at a Community College

Benefits of Starting at a Community College

Sometimes continuing your higher education at a traditional four-year institution is not your cup of tea. This may be because you are unsure of what you want to study or you are looking to stay local. 

There is a negative stigma towards community college that it is not “real” college, that it is not good, that you won’t be challenged educationally, or that you won’t be able to advance from there. This is not true. Additionally, high schoolers may be more inclined to live the 4-year college experience and feel as if they won’t get that from a community college. 

We had a chance to speak with students who went to a community college and they shared the following benefits of starting your education at a community college. Ultimately, community college can be a stepping stone into your higher education journey. 

Benefit 1: You Save Money on Tuition

Many students save significant money on tuition by studying for two years at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution. As the national student loan debt has now reached $1.71 trillion, the rising cost of tuition can lead to having to take out significant student loans. In contrast, community colleges in California have the least expensive tuition and fees in the nation. Keep in mind that tuition is not the full cost of going to college, and other things such as books, transportation, housing, food, health care, and other expenses will impact how much money you will have to pay. If you have a solid plan and support to afford non-tuition expenses, community college can be an affordable option. 

  • California Promise Grant: Additionally there are state programs, such as the California College Promise Grant, that waive enrollment fees and can guarantee paid tuition for your first year of community college.

Benefit 2: Smaller Class Sizes

Besides financial aid, attending a community college has educational perks such as smaller class size, academic flexibility, and school-life balance. 

  • Smaller class sizes: Many community colleges offer smaller class sizes than larger schools, meaning that students can find more personal attention and one-on-one time with their instructors. 
    • This is beneficial for students who like to learn at their own pace and like to ask multiple questions. 

Benefit 3: Academic Flexibility 

If you are a student who struggled academically in high school or are unsure of whether you want to invest your time and money in college, attending a community college is a good introduction to higher education. 

  • Academic Flexibility: This is because if you are interested in taking one or two classes per semester, you will not feel out of place as most community college students attend school part-time. 

Benefit 4: School-life Balance 

Attending a community college allows you the opportunity to stay close with family and friends. If you are not ready to move away from your hometown, this is a great opportunity for you to receive a great education while also balancing your family and friends. 

Community college is a perfect choice and a great way to begin your higher education journey! Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. There is a stigma attached to attending community college, but community college is college.