Should You Commute to Law School?

Is commuting by car or public transit a good idea?

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Depending on where you got to law school, commuting may be either a choice or a reality. Some schools provide dorms or have students who mostly live near campus. Other schools are in areas without housing or don't have any housing resources to encourage students to live close to campus. There is also that reality that you might find yourself commuting to save money in some areas that charge considerably high rental rates.

If you are considering commuting to law school, here are a few things that you want to consider before taking the plunge. 

Commuting by Car 

Some of my friends in law school commuted by car. Some drove from as much as an hour away. Some said they enjoyed the commute because it let them clear their heads and decompress after a day on campus. Once they had control over their class schedule (which typically doesn't happen until second year) they were able to cluster their classes and only commute a few days a week to ease the burden. 

Some people, however, hate to commute by car. They find it stressful. Law school is stressful enough without having to add on stress. If you hate commuting with a passion, perhaps it is worth making some other tradeoffs to live closer to school. 

One other thing to consider. Every hour you spend in the car is one hour you are not studying. That means if you drive two hours a day, that could be two hours a day that you could be studying, working out, or spending time with your significant other.

However, if you are an auditory learner, you might find you can use this time to listen to recordings that could help you study! 

Commuting on Public Transit 

If you are going to law school in a metropolitan area, you might have the option to commute on public transit. Depending on the quality of the transit, this can be an easier way to commute because sometimes you can actually study or read on the train or bus (unless you get car sick reading on busses which I do).

But if I am commuting on a train, I can read just fine. I had many friends who commuted by train to school and they found the commute to be relaxing and a way to get some reading done. So, by the time they got home, they could just focus on being with their family or doing other life tasks or activities. 

If you are considering commuting to law school on public transit, check it out before you go! You might be surprised at your experience. You might love it, or find yourself getting car sick. No matter what it will help inform your decision so you feel good about it. 

How Can You Stay Engaged with the Law School Community? 

I think the hardest part of commuting to law school is that it is harder to be engaged with the law school community. You might not go to as many meetings or social events (such as bar nights) if you live far away. There is nothing wrong with this, but you might want to think about how you can stay engaged with your law school community even living far from school. Are you willing to stay on campus late into the evenings to go to a club meeting or hear a lecture? Are you willing to stay at a friend's house if you want to attend a social event and not drive home? Are you willing to trade some community engagement for the benefits of living where you are choosing to live?

There is no right or wrong answer here, you just want to think it through so you can make the best choice for you and get the most out of your law school experience. 

Although some folks don't have a choice when it comes to commuting to law school (you might need to live far from school for your spouse's job or financial reasons, for example), if you do have a choice, just make sure you weigh the pros and cons.