Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

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nyynyj210
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Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby nyynyj210 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 1:03 am

Will be starting school part time in NYC in the fall, classes 4 days a week on top of a full time job. I was offered a sizable scholarship on the condition that I remain in the top half of my class. My dilemma is whether to move in to an apartment with my girlfriend either in or just outside the city or to save on the living expenses and take the train every day from my house in NJ. The commute from home would be about 1.5 to 2 hours door to door each way (and I'm being kind to NJ Transit here), while getting an apartment would save me roughly 3 hours out of the day. I figure I could get some work done on the train but am worried that the entire ordeal would burn me out. Anybody have some advice/experiences they could share?

totesTheGoat
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby totesTheGoat » Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:58 pm

nyynyj210 wrote:Will be starting school part time in NYC in the fall, classes 4 days a week on top of a full time job. I was offered a sizable scholarship on the condition that I remain in the top half of my class. My dilemma is whether to move in to an apartment with my girlfriend either in or just outside the city or to save on the living expenses and take the train every day from my house in NJ. The commute from home would be about 1.5 to 2 hours door to door each way (and I'm being kind to NJ Transit here), while getting an apartment would save me roughly 3 hours out of the day. I figure I could get some work done on the train but am worried that the entire ordeal would burn me out. Anybody have some advice/experiences they could share?



This past school year, depending on the day of the week, I either commuted 1 hour to work in the morning or 50 minutes to class in the morning, then commuted 20 minutes from work to school or vice versa at some point in the afternoon (one day of the week having a second 20 minute commute from work to school again.. i had morning classes and evening classes), and then would finally commute 45 minutes back home after class each night.

It was a nightmare. There were some logistical issues that I naively walked into (I thought that having Mondays devoted to school would help, but i had so many work deadlines that I had to go into work for 3-4 hours on my heaviest class days), but most of the issue was the fact that I was leaving the house at 7am and getting home at 10pm. God forbid I forgot a book at home. I was practically living out of a combination of the trunk of my car and a backpack for an entire semester. Studying? Ha! I would skim the cases in 5 minutes before class started or during class if they were especially long. Somehow I got decent grades, but never again would I go through something like that.

If you have the option, live close to campus. Trust me, even just the flexibility to turn around when you forgot a textbook on the kitchen table is worth living closer.

I also tried working on the train, but I got on far enough down the line that it was standing room only. Reading a textbook while standing in a light rail car is really unproductive. Taking notes is impossible. I eventually burned out on the train and ended up waiting until the worst of rush hour was over to drive down to campus. From there, I'd catch the train the rest of the way to my day job, but at least I had my car for my evening commute, so it didn't involve a mile and a half walk to the train station in the 100* heat.

I don't know that I can quantify how much of the stress was from the commute versus the fact that I'm married and couldn't see my wife for more than 5 minutes at a time all week versus poor scheduling on my part. Whatever it was, I can say for a fact that a 3-3.5 hour commute is a _ton_ of wasted time for somebody doing a full-time job _and_ doing law school at night. You will not regret moving close to campus.

sandwhich
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby sandwhich » Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:35 pm

I only commuted 30-40 minutes and wanted to shoot myself in the face every day. The thing is you don't realize how much time you end up spending at school and just how much time you need some days. 20 hours a week spent driving is going to interfere with your ability to succeed in law school.

Petrichor
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby Petrichor » Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:41 pm

just pay more to save yourself time. last routine commute i had was 45 mins each way, occasionally 2+ hours each way if the weather mucks up the road or if there is an accident, hated every second of it. now its only 20 mins and i have way more time to relax and lower stress. nj transit is usually good but when it goes bad, you are really in trouble, plus the classes let out at 8 30 or 9 and its pretty difficult to study on the train after that (i know this since i have the same experience of full time job plus part time school).

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Leprechaun
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby Leprechaun » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:27 pm

A lot depends on your time management ability, but it is definitely doable. Granted I'm only at a T149 8) but if I can do it, most fairly intelligent people with good time management skills should be able to do it. I have a demanding full time job (County Auditor), commute about 45 minutes each way on a non-traffic day, longer on a day with traffic (which is scarce), deal with work related calls the whole drive to school, have a wife and two kids, and attend law school part-time at a minimum of 4 nights a week. I've now finished 4 semesters and one summer, and am 47/90 of the way finished. As long as I choose to keep up this pace, I should be finished after a total of 3.5 years in December 2016. I am also on a scholarship with a stip (top 25%) and despite a lot of trepidation going into it that I wouldn't be able to compete due to my time constraints, I'm in the top 10% (approximately as rankings come out again in a few weeks), should grade onto law review when rankings officially post, and have a wide enough margin now that barring me getting catastrophically ill or something equivalent, I should be able to keep myself in position to keep my scholarship, and even if I was to somehow lose it now, it would only impact my last semester as I've already punched my ticket for the next 2 semesters.

Along the way the last couple of years, my marriage has actually improved, as I find that the limited time I spend with my wife now I'm actually paying attention and being grateful for it and actually LISTEN, rather than taking her for granted. We are actually much closer now than when I started this two years ago. Two things I miss are being able to coach my daughter at sports and performing with my son in theatre, but there WILL be some sacrifices you have to make. I still take time to be a good dad for them and to spend time with them, and they spend so much time in extracurricular activities, that they don't miss me as much. My 1L year, I learned what I had to do in order to be successful in law school, and where I could cut corners. This past year, I had so much more "free" time due to doing law school efficiently, work smarter, not harder. I even volunteer as a TA and teach other new law students "Academic Support" sessions each week to teach them how to succeed in law school. I did that this past year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now though, when I do have free time, I feel guilty for not doing something productive :)

Find something that motivates you intrinsically, and use it to push yourself. I was a POOR student at my undergrad (Notre Dame) over 20 years ago, probably had one of the worst undergrad GPA's on this entire board, so I had something to prove to myself and I wanted to show my kids what dedication and work could do for one's grades.

Although law school is competitive, find a support system there that helps you thrive. I've developed several close friends over shared life experiences at law school, including professors, and we help each other out by doing things like sharing in bringing or providing dinner at class, sharing notes, outlines, class recordings, and in just being there for each other when we need someone to detox with.

Of course I don't know you personally, and you probably go to a school with a heckuva better reputation than mine, but don't let anyone make you believe that you can't do it, if you really want to.

Good luck to you, and I hope it works out for you,

Leprechaun
Last edited by Leprechaun on Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

BigZuck
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby BigZuck » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:15 am

I just can't imagine a part time law degree being worth that cost and hassle

Eastboundndown
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Re: Commuting 2 hours while attending school part time?

Postby Eastboundndown » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:34 am

How long does it take to earn a law degree going part-time? I'd imagine it would be difficult to maintain that commute long-term. Maybe worth it to spend the extra money for extra time/effort saved. Recently started saving half the time on my commute to work and didn't realize how awful/how much time wasted the commute was before until I started the shorter commute. However, I drove so was unable to get other things done while commuting besides audiobooks/music- you could use the extra time to read/study, but have to be honest with yourself whether you'll actually do that




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