Learn from the experts

Learn from the experts

Commuting students tell their stories and offer advice on how to make it work for you and what to do if it doesn’t.

Established home already?

Commuters make connections

If you’re currently living independently, commuting to campus could be your best option. This was the case for mature student, Kylie.

When I decided to go to university I was already renting with my partner in Chatham, so it made more sense for me to commute rather than uproot everything. Not having to search for, and then move into, new accommodation was a big benefit for me. Moving home is often stressful (although exciting if you choose to do so!) so not having that additional stress was great. This allowed me to focus on settling into my course. 

In my first year, I took the free shuttle bus that runs between Medway and Canterbury and from my second year on, I have used the DSA taxi service. As a disabled student, this has been a fantastic resource for me and allows me to arrange travel to and from campus easily. 

I do definitely feel a part of the University community. Spending time on campus outside of classes really helps with this. I also try to attend events that are run by the University, either in my academic division or through the students’ union. I have also joined the Mature Students’ Society; we meet for weekly lunches alongside other events such as socials and picnics.

I found the best way to connect with others was through getting involved with society events and engaging with my classmates during class times. The socials run by the societies are an excellent opportunity to get to know others on campus. 

Commuting was the right choice for me and I wouldn’t change it given the chance. I plan to stay on at Kent once I finish my undergrad and will continue to live at home and commute. 

Not ready to leave home?

Commuting works for me

University brings independence. But there’s no pressure to move out immediately. Many students, like Taylah, decide to live at home during their degree.

I live just outside Canterbury and my Dad worked at the University, so I kind of grew up on campus! When it came to going to university, I didn’t feel I was ready to leave home. I’m very close to my family and I also wanted to be able to really focus on my studies and not stress about finances and other life stuff.

At first I commuted by bus. I had good intentions of doing my reading on the bus but, to be honest, I’m too nosy, so spent most of my time people watching. Then I started driving lessons, I managed to schedule my lessons so that I got picked up from home and dropped off at uni – saved time and money! When I passed my driving test, I drove on to campus.

At first, I was a bit worried that it would be difficult to make friends but actually it was fine. I joined societies but most of my friends came from my course – there were a couple of us who were commuting students too, which was nice. We’d go for lunch, coffee, out to dinner, which worked well for me, I’m not really into clubbing.

I think I’d be a much more stressed individual, if I hadn’t decided to commute. For me it was a good way of controlling my environment; being at home definitely takes the pressure off and gives me more time and headspace for studying. Since I started as an undergrad, I’ve completed a Master’s and am now in the third year of my PhD. So no regrets, commuting to uni has definitely worked for me.

My journey to uni

Commuting time is study time

Sammy lets the bus take the strain, commuting from the Canterbury campus to her course in Medway; she even manages to get some work done on the journey.

I live in Whitstable and have been commuting from Whitstable to the Medway campus for over two years now. Although I do drive, I have found that it is more cost efficient for me to use the University’s shuttle bus. It runs between the two campuses and is free. 

It takes just under an hour each way and has honestly been the best way for me to get to and from my lectures. I don’t have to think about parking and conveniently, the bus stop is right outside my lecture building so I don’t even have to walk! I can just sit back and enjoy the journey or even connect to the shuttle’s Wi-Fi and catch up on my university work, during the journey.

The community at Medway is so welcoming. Being a commuting student, I was worried about not having as much of an opportunity to make friends. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. There are plenty of events that get held on campus such as at the student hub, that will get you talking to lots of people. 

The thing that makes the Medway campus so unique is the fact that we share it with two other universities. It means that there is always so much going on and so many different people to talk to about their experiences; they may be from a different university to you but we all share the same campus.

You can change your mind!

Do what makes you happy

Having commuted throughout his first year, Josh, switched to renting in his second year. He explains why.

In my first year I commuted to uni from Dover every day. It was a 45-minute bus ride, which at the time I thought would be fine. I bought a bus pass which was excellent value; you have to pay upfront (£198 at the time) but I’d paid off the card by the end of my first term. 

The buses were great during the day, but after 19.00, there are fewer buses running. This makes it harder to attend social events; my friends share many stories of nights out and funny events that I just couldn’t attend. Travelling to uni makes it harder to be spontaneous too, it’s not that you’re not invited it’s just you have to weigh up whether or not you’ll be able to get home! I know for some people the social side isn’t as important, but for me one of my main driving factors for university was the chance to be myself, more than I was before. 

Commuting didn’t stop me from making friends, I went to pretty much every event that my department ran during ‘welcome week’, so I had no problem meeting, talking, and befriending my course mates. But in the end, I realised I’d be happier living in the city than at home. 

When I made the decision to commute I hadn’t done my research properly and I’d focused too much on the costs and having less debt. For me though, that’s not the most important thing, as it’s always possible to earn money. Renting with friends in Canterbury, I earn enough each month to enjoy a club night and a takeaway or two. And being closer to campus means I can be more active in the Taekwondo Society, which I’m really enjoying.