A year ago, when I was going through the process of applying for the WPMBA Program, one of my biggest concerns was the commute. When I had a phone interview before getting accepted, the interviewers even asked me about the drive time and if it was going to be acceptable to manage both work and class. On a good day (good meaning, no chance of weather or traffic), it takes me an hour and a half to get to campus from where I work. Then there’s an hour drive home. Working and living this far from campus can be a challenge, however, here are some tips:
- Talk with your boss before you begin the process to discuss work flexibility. On class days, I leave work early and make up the time by working a little longer on non-class days or in the evenings at home since the majority of my work can be accomplished from my laptop.
- Also, factor in fuel and vehicle maintenance in the costs of the program.
- Plan for traffic issues. For a 6:00 p.m. class, my goal is to make it to the parking lot by 5:30. Now, that does not always happen with unpredictable traffic issues. When it looks like it might rain or snow, I leave a little bit earlier too.
- For group projects, find teammates who can respect your drive. I have been fortunate to have groups that have met before class or on the weekends. Also, utilizing Skype is helpful. Be accommodating and up front about your drive time and be as flexible as possible of when to meet. Try not use your distance as an excuse.
- Stay up on maintenance on your vehicle. If you know your car is reliable, you won’t have that to worry about on your drive.
- Audio Books. Purchase some of your required reading as an audio book and listen to it on your drive.
- Plan for the day. Get gas when you aren’t pressed for time and pack supper/snacks if you don’t want to stop at fast food every day.
- Create a driving playlist of upbeat songs for the drive home to help you stay awake.
- Find a driver – someone willing to drive you around every day. (I’m still working on this one, maybe if I win the lottery, this will happen.)