The Inside Scope on Being a Commuter Student at SBU and Still Getting the Real College Experience

Stony Brook University Students

By Elizabeth Chervin

By Elizabeth Chervin
Unigo Campus Rep at Stony Brook

at sbu stadiumDid you know that nearly half of the student body at Stony Brook is made up of commuter students? With such a large percentage of the SBU population commuting, I felt it was necessary to share with you my experiences as a commuter student. I also want to set the record straight that you do not have to live on campus to become involved- I live about 30 miles away from SBU and I am more involved at school than some of my on-campus friends!

A typical day for me starts at around 9:30AM, since this semester my first class is not until 11:45am. I have to leave my house at least an hour before my class starts, in order to take into account the time it takes for me to find parking and take the Express Bus to the main part of campus.

Tip #1- for all you future commuters: if you live far from campus (like I do), and do not like getting up early, do not sign up for early morning classes if you can avoid it. Stony Brook is a large school, which means it has classes offered all throughout the day. If you are a really good schedule maker, you can even set it up so you do not have classes five days a week. In the past I’ve been able to have a Monday-Thursday schedule, and also a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. Once you get the hang of SOLAR and the class bulletin, the possibilities are endless!

Once I get to campus, I usually try and look at the Events’ boards on my way to class (there are three main outdoor ones that I am aware of, the event board in front of the SBU Bookstore, the one on the side of the SAC, facing the Library, and the event board located in front of Javits). The events boards have a good representation on club events, things for sale, apartments for rent, job postings, etc. It’s always fun to look at, and every once in awhile there will be something of interest to me.

Tip #2 -  if you want to feel like you are a part of SBU-get involved! I knew starting freshman year I wanted to feel that I belonged at Stony Brook. I did not want to be the stereotypical commuter student who goes to campus only for classes and then leaves. So, I did a little research during the first week of class. Every fall Stony Brook has a whole bunch of events planned during the first month of the semester. Students are given little postcards detailing the schedule of events during opening weekend, but it is also available through the Stony Brook University Website under “Student Welcome Center”. The link to the Student Welcome Center is For events happening throughout the semester, I recommend signing up for the StudentLife Listserv. By signing up, you will receive e-mails about events going on around campus from the Division of Student Life. This is such an easy way to stay “in the loop”. To sign up, visit

After class, I am almost always hungry. All that thinking takes a lot of energy! If I am meeting up with friends, we usually eat at the SAC or the Union. Occasionally, we will venture off campus. 

Tip #3 - Eating off-campus is a good way to go if you have the time, access to a car, and are not dependent on a meal plan for your food (most residents use their meal plans for food, which is limited to on-campus dining only). The dining areas on campus are very crowded nowadays, since Stony Brook keeps admitting more students than it can reasonably accommodate. Stony Brook cuisine is edible, but it is not worth waiting on a line that wraps around the SAC dining area, only to find that there are no available spots to eat once you’ve actually purchased your food.  Last semester, my friend and I went to Subway during our class break. Subway is located just east of Nicols Road off 25A. There are other great dining places on 25A going west, such as the Green Cactus Mexican Grill and Strawberry Fields, a great deli with reasonable prices. If you would rather stick with on-campus dining, there are meal plans available. To find out more about campus dining options, visit:

At the end of a typical day for me, I take the Express Bus back to my car and head home. Sometimes, I’ll stay on campus late if there is an event going on. When I had my Monday-Thursday schedule, I would always stay in the Stony Brook area on Thursday nights to hang out with my friends. Thursdays are the big party nights for most Stony Brook students, as many students do not have Friday classes. As a commuter, I am never on campus during the weekends, since I work and live far from SBU. However, if you are a commuter who lives closer to school than I do, or if you are looking for something to do on the weekends, Stony Brook is trying hard to pump up campus life on the weekends. 

Tip #4 - To hear about what’s going on during the weekends, sign up for the StudentLife Listserv. You will get weekly e-mails about campus events. Another way to see what is happening over the weekend at school is to check out the online events calendar, at Once at this site, click on “events” located under Activities, Culture and Recreation.

My last and final tip for any students considering commuting would be to sign up for a Commuter Assistant during orientation. CA’s help new students get adjusted to life at Stony Brook by providing them with advice, guidance, and support. To find out more about the Commuter Assistant Program, check out

Happy Commuting!