The Busy Life of a CU Commuter Student

When you hear students say they’re always “busy,” they’re usually student athletes or students balancing college with a job. However, one group tends to be overlooked: commuters.

I had no idea how tiresome and busy the life of a commuter could be. Ever since the first week of classes, I’ve continued to learn about one student’s commuter life, and her name is Gabi Gray.

Gabi is a sophomore studying Elementary Education that commutes from Spanishburg, which is about a forty minute (or longer since there’s road work in progress) drive round-trip. She is also an active member in an on-campus religious organization called FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).

Here’s what Gabi’s schedule looks like on a week-to-week basis:

Gabi has field placement for teaching at Spanishburg Elementary School from 7:15-10:30 a.m. As soon as she’s finished there, she has back-to-back activities with an Educational Technology class on-campus from 11:00-11:50 a.m. and FCA Foundations (training to teach FCA lessons) as soon as that class lets out from 12:00-1:00 p.m. After that, she heads home and starts on her homework/studying for the week. She has another class, Educational Psychology, that is strictly online through posted lectures that she works on throughout the week as well.

Gabi commutes to Concord for U.S. History from 9:30-10:45 a.m. and World Literature from 11:00-12:15 p.m. (alternates in-person every week). Following those classes, she goes home and has a bit of time to work on schoolwork or grab a bite to eat before geography class on Zoom from 2:00-3:15 p.m. That night, she returns to Concord for the weekly FCA meeting from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Essentially, Wednesday operates on the same schedule as Monday with field placement from 7:15-10:30 a.m. and Educational Technology from 11:00-11:50 a.m. The only difference is that Gabi doesn’t have FCA Foundations on Wednesdays. This is one day during the week that she has a significant amount of time to be productive.

Thursdays are nearly the same schedule as Tuesdays with U.S. History from 9:30-10:45 a.m., World Literature from 11:00-12:15 p.m. (alternates in-person each week), and geography from 2:00-3:15 p.m. (online via Zoom). Instead of FCA, Gabi has Bible study at her family’s church from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Princeton (about twenty minutes from Spanishburg).

Once again, Gabi has field placement from 7:15-10:30 a.m. However, she doesn’t have any other school-related activity to attend; instead, she babysits from 12:00-6:00 p.m. After she babysits, she travels to every Pikeview football game (when they are scheduled to play) with her family to watch her sister perform with the marching band’s dance team, which tend to last from 7:00-10:00 p.m. Due to COVID-19, some of those games were rescheduled on Monday evenings, but most of them occur on Friday nights.

The weekend is usually when Gabi has more time to focus on her schoolwork, but like every student, she wants to have some time to herself to enjoy the weekend with her family and/or friends. On Saturdays, Gabi tends to come to the home football games at Concord, which usually last a solid two to three hours. After that, she usually studies/makes progress on her homework.

The only major activity Gabi has is attending church service, which usually lasts from 11:00-12:30 p.m. When she gets home, she dedicates the rest of her day to completing homework.

On the surface, it may not seem like Gabi has all that busy of a schedule. However, what most people don’t realize is that all that driving around makes you tiresome once you do it nearly every day. 
When I asked Gabi how she would describe her schedule as busy, she had this to say:

“When I do a lot of things like FCA, Bible studies, [attending] classes, and my [field] placement, I spend a lot of time running back and forth simply because I am a commuter.”

Gabi Gray

Another aspect of commuting that makes things even more difficult for her is the fact that her major requires constant reading and note-taking.

“When I do have time, my workload is pretty intense. For some classes, I’ll spend hours just reading and taking notes to fully understand the content.”

Gabi Gray

She also felt the need to emphasize how her field placement requires her undivided attention.

“Although I only teach two lessons this semester, I have to spend an extensive amount of time planning those lessons and making sure they are appropriate and well-planned for the students.”

Gabi Gray

I think the most inspiring part of Gabi’s workload is that she always manages to have a smile on her face and remain optimistic about everything. As you can see from the picture used for this article, she’s one of those people that always has a smile on her face.

At the end of the day, I don’t think commuters like Gabi get enough credit for their tireless effort, especially with the grades she’s maintained thus far. Last year, she made the Dean’s List each semester. With less than half of this semester left, she’s on pace to continue that trend.

On the surface, Gabi Gray is a commuter. However, she’s much busier than you’d imagine.

by Jared Sandy

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