Campus News

Commuting students juggle traffic, time management

commuting students

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Commuting students make up about 85 percent of the student population at UH, so living on campus isn’t typically as common at the University.

With Houston being one of the worst cities for traffic in the country, a lot of students can feel frustrated with the long commutes they endure getting to class. 

“I’ve commuted my entire college career,” said supply chain management senior Shaila Ali. “It can get super exhausting sitting in my car for 45 minutes just to go to one class.”

For students like Ali who commute from the Sugar Land area in Southwest Houston, the day-to-day commute without traffic is about 35-40 minutes to and from the school. Taking traffic into account, that commute length can stretch to about an hour or an hour and a half.

But Ali and her friends have found a solution to commuting. 

“What we do is that we gather a group of people that all live in the same area and we meet at one central location, for us, it’s our mosque,” Ali said. “Then we all go in one car with one person who has a garage pass, because those are closer to the classes and safer, to be honest. Sometimes we’ll Venmo that person so that we all split the pass evenly.”

That method tends to work more often than not, but it requires Ali and her friends to coordinate class schedules at the beginning of the year, and makes it hard to stay involved in extracurricular activities since everyone relies on one another for the single parking pass.

Pre-med senior Farah Abbas is also a commuting student — but does so from a shorter distance. 

“I’m from the suburbs, but I moved into an off-campus apartment when I started college. I commute from downtown to UH by car and it’s honestly not that bad,” Abbas said. 

When she gets to campus, Abbas chooses to engage in some extracurricular activities and hang out with friends to fill the time between classes as well as beat traffic. 

“I have some really great friends, so I sometimes just hang out with them at their place on campus or I sometimes have meetings for my student organizations,” Abbas said. “The worst times for traffic are usually when people are getting off work, and luckily that’s when most student organizations meet. So I go home once the traffic dies down.”

Departments like Commuter Student Services suggest doing things like getting a job on campus, securing a parking pass early and getting involved to spend more time on campus to make the commute time worthwhile. 

The University also often has special programs and events going on, so if commuters plan to stay a little longer on campus to beat traffic, they can always check out the UH Event Calendar for upcoming events.

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