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How long is too long of a commute?


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I'm super grateful to have gotten into Teachers College for grad school, but figuring out housing right now feels almost as stressful as applying for schools in the first place. I could try to find an apartment near campus and shell out $1500 a month for rent, but that money would probably have to come from a private loan of some sort since there's no way I could work that much during the program to make that kind of money. I have substantial loans from undergrad (letting an 18 year old sign a contract with Sallie Mae should be illegal tbh) so the idea of taking out even MORE private loans freaks me out. My 2nd plan is that I could live further away from Columbia in Brooklyn or Queens and save maybe $800 a month living with some old high school friends, but I'd still have about an hour commute by train every day. Third option is that I could live with my parents on Long Island for $free$ but commute about 2 hours each way every day. I also have no car at home so I'd kind of be stuck socially until either I win the lottery or a friend comes to pick me up. 

Is a 2 hour commute too long for grad school? I'd be commuting by train so I could definitely get reading or other work done, but I'm worried about how engaged I can be on campus when 4 hours of every day are spent on public transit. Also, has anyone else dealt with moving back home after having their own place for a while? I feel like that adjustment is going to be pretty rough too. 

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Personally,  I'd go with option 2, the one hour commute. You still save some money but are less isolated. 1 hour each way means you could get some homework done but not have an absurdly long day. 4 hours a day commuting sounds way too exhausting, and it sounds like you would have more fun living with friends closer to the city.

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The one hour sounds doable. You can read study or plan sessions on the train. As long as they run early or late enough when you have to be on campus. It’ll get old but that’s a good chunk of money too. 

As for moving home, I did it last year for an internship. I did hate parts of it since I was 26 and literally had no friends at all for seven months. The internship kept me busy as did studying for the praxis and comps. Then I had to find other ways to keep busy when I had no job in between internship and starting my cfy. But it saved me a lot of money and is now a distant memory

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6 hours ago, sabrono said:

I'm super grateful to have gotten into Teachers College for grad school, but figuring out housing right now feels almost as stressful as applying for schools in the first place. I could try to find an apartment near campus and shell out $1500 a month for rent, but that money would probably have to come from a private loan of some sort since there's no way I could work that much during the program to make that kind of money. I have substantial loans from undergrad (letting an 18 year old sign a contract with Sallie Mae should be illegal tbh) so the idea of taking out even MORE private loans freaks me out. My 2nd plan is that I could live further away from Columbia in Brooklyn or Queens and save maybe $800 a month living with some old high school friends, but I'd still have about an hour commute by train every day. Third option is that I could live with my parents on Long Island for $free$ but commute about 2 hours each way every day. I also have no car at home so I'd kind of be stuck socially until either I win the lottery or a friend comes to pick me up. 

Is a 2 hour commute too long for grad school? I'd be commuting by train so I could definitely get reading or other work done, but I'm worried about how engaged I can be on campus when 4 hours of every day are spent on public transit. Also, has anyone else dealt with moving back home after having their own place for a while? I feel like that adjustment is going to be pretty rough too. 

I think 2 hours would be too long if you were driving, but luckily with those 2 hours you can just look at it as study time and do your readings/assignments.  

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In grad school I lived with my parents and had a 1.5 hour long commute each way via train, which easily became closer to 2 hours with delays/transfers. I recently finished my CFY and I'm paying back my loans now (agree with you on Sallie Mae!). Yes the commute was rough, but I'm SO grateful I didn't take out an extra 20k or whatever it would have been to live closer.

The summer before grad school started, I made my first semester schedule and I was lucky to have class only 3 days a week. I was originally looking to live in the city as well, but after I was able to schedule only 3 days a week at school, I told myself, "I can commute for my first semester and then see what my schedule looks like in the future." I would talk to your advisor and see what your possible schedule will look like. Also, see what time your classes will be held. Going in 3 days a week from 11-5 is going to be very different than 5 days a week from 8-8. Will you be able to complete your externships near your home? I was able to complete my final externship only 10 minutes away from me.

In terms of social life: I had friends who also commuted and we usually preferred to just get food or drinks after class, which allowed me to still get home at a reasonable hour. Also, you'll probably have breaks in your schedule (class from 10-11, then your next class isn't til 2), and that's another great time to grab lunch with friends or even just hang out and study together.

My best piece of advice would be to take it one semester at a time. See what is reasonable given your first semester schedule and go from there. Good luck!!

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