How to Survive Commuting to Law School

Hello friends!

This is a highly requested post that has taken me a little while to compile information for because it is not something I have personal experience with. I do not commute a large distance to law school- I have about a 15 minutes drive. I know that many people have to commute to law school (or grad school of any kind) and I can imagine it would be difficult on top of an already busy and exhausting schedule. Though I do not have personal experience, I polled a few of my super successful classmates who commute to law school for the information found in this post. Though this is not my own thoughts or opinions, I trust the people who I talked to implicitly and I think their advice is very valuable as they have all managed to commute through law school while still doing amazing in school. Sometimes I quote them directly and sometimes I summarized but overall, I hope this is helpful to those who are currently commuting to law school or those considering it in the future.

1. Utilize Your Commute
I got this advice from two different people but in slightly different ways.
Opinion 1:

  • "Commuting an hour to and from school is a big loss of valuable time to study and prepare. Because of this, I searched for ways to make my commute valuable and to utilize that time in a positive way. I downloaded lectures on topics of law we were learning in class and checked out legal books on CD from the law library. This way, my two hours of driving each day were spent learning and enhancing my education. Something that was extra helpful around finals time is to use the NaturalReader app to read my outlines aloud from my iPhone. This way I am listening to the law while driving which is a way to study and make my driving time more useful." - a 3L student 
Opinion 2: 

  •  "I use my driving time to and from school to relax. I spend my time at school hustling to get as much done as possible and when I get home I have reading, outlining and regular life stuff like dinner to fill my time with. This leaves very little time for relaxing and doing fun things. My relaxation while driving varies by day but here are a few of my favorite options. 
    • Audiobooks: I have the free Libby app and I use it to download free audiobooks to listen to on my drive. After a long day of law school, I love listening to a fun romance novel or a thrilling mystery. It gives my brain a break and makes the drive go so much faster. When I do arrive home, I am more relaxed and ready to take on more work because I have had a little time to relax. 
    • Phone Calls: Law school is so busy and sometimes I run out of time to keep up with friends and family. I like to make "phone dates" with people during my commute time. This way, my driving time is spent catching up with a dear friend or filling my mom in on my life. It is important to have people support you during law school and this is one of my favorite ways to maintain those relationships and make my drive fly by. 
    • Jam Session: Honestly, what is better than a good, old-fashioned jam out in your car? Especially after the long days. I love to cue up all my old favorites and just sing along at the top of my lungs all the way home." - a 2L student 

2. Maximize Your Time at School 
Everyone I talked to agreed on this point. If you commute, you have to maximize your time at school. You already have so much dead time in your day driving to and from school so you have to be extra productive while you are there. Meet with professors, meet with career services, spend time with your classmates, etc. When you live far away and commute, it can be harder to get involved or just run over for something real quick so you have to be extra organized to make the most of your time at school and make sure you do the things you need to do. Planners and To-Do lists were suggested by multiple people to help with this.

3. Make a Friend who Lives Close to School 
Not to try to tell you who to make friends with but this was a piece of advice from several people. Specifically, one of my classmates commutes and his law school best friend lives less than a mile from the school. On nights before mornings exams, my friend who commutes crashes on his friends couch so that he doesn't have to make an hour drive the morning of an 8am exam. There have also been instances with bad weather where I have personally offered my guest room to a few of my friends who commute so they don't have to make the drive in a snowstorm. Law school is better with good friends!

4. Take Care of Your Car
Commuters have to rely heavily on their cars. I don't think anyone can argue about that. If your car breaks down and you live 15 minutes from school, you can ask a friend to pick you up or grab an Uber. If you live far away and commute and your car breaks down, you may have a much more difficult time getting to school. The ABA sets rules for law schools that you can only miss a few classes every semester so getting to school is very important. My friends who commute stressed over and over again how important it is to care for your car and keep it in good running order so that you can continue making your commute. Change your oil, make sure your tires are in good condition and get it checked out when your "check engine light" comes on.

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