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Some people choose not to go to college.

Some people choose to go to college and dorm.

Some people choose to go to college and rent an off-campus apartment.

And some people choose the dreaded commute.

Commuting, as anyone in higher education soon learns, is when you drive/carpool/use public transit to get to university instead of dorming or renting off-campus apartments as most other college students do, and as commuters know, commuting is…an experience.

San Jose is the third largest city in California and its population passed the 1M mark three years ago, so SJSU commuters arguably have a worse and more annoying commute than most anybody else not in the Bay Area. If you’re an SJSU commuter, you’ve probably faced one of these five struggles while on the road:

1. Waking up insanely early to get to class.


A good amount of people who go to San Jose State aren’t from San Jose – hell, some of them are even from sleepy suburban areas such as Danville and San Ramon, which are an hour away from the university itself. As if that weren’t bad enough, Bay Area traffic (esp. SJ traffic since it’s such a big city) is a well-known problem. Long story short, a lot of SJSU commuters have to wake up at ungodly hours of the morning, sometimes as early as 5:00 AM, so they can get to class on time and get the good parking before it fills up.

2. Comparing schedules if you carpool so that they don’t conflict.

Since commuting is already so difficult, friends who go to SJSU have frequently carpooled together so that they can reduce the struggle and impact on the environment that commuting individually would introduce. The problem is, there’s no guarantee that you and your friend are going to have the same class schedule, even if you met each other through that one biology class where your professor is senile and forgets what he’s lecturing about halfway through every lecture session. So, if you and a friend are planning on carpooling to university through San Jose’s horrendous traffic,  you have to compare schedules and come up with a time to leave that doesn’t cut into anyone’s class time. Since some people have 8 A.M. classes and others don’t even begin classes till 2 P.M., this is way easier said than done. Think about it – if your classes don’t begin till 2, are you really looking forward to getting up at 7 and losing about 6 extra hours of sleep so that your friend can get to their 8 A.M. on time? You probably know the answer to that question.


San Jose and SF traffic.

As mentioned before, Bay Area traffic, especially San Jose traffic, is known for being just plain bad. This year alone, for “a fourth straight year, Bay Area traffic congestion has reached record levels”. Even if you’re less than a half hour away from SJSU, if the traffic is heavy that day (which, let’s be real, it usually is, this is the Bay Area you’re talking about), you’re flat out of luck. It’s not uncommon to get stuck in traffic while rushing to class, even if you carpool, so even if you finally don’t sleep through your 495325 alarms and you finally get ready on time and leave on time, all that needs to happen is a bad accident or the usual heavy traffic, and voila! You’re late.

Not to mention that even though SJSU is a smaller school than the more well-known UCs, its buildings are still spaced really far apart, making it so that walking from one class to another or walking to class from parking is a time-consuming chore unto itself. When you have this paired with San Jose’s traffic problem, it makes you wonder how anybody gets to their classes on time at all.

4. Setting 49382058 alarms and sleeping through them all anyway.

Every commuter knows the struggle – you have to get up super early to get to lecture and so you set your alarm, but to your horror when you finally get out of bed the next day, you’ve slept through your alarm. So you set not one, but two alarms, but then you sleep through that second one too. You set three, four, even seven alarms, just so you can get up early, but it’s so tempting to just hit the “snooze” button and look at the PowerPoints online (pro tip: not the best idea) that you sleep through the seven alarms anyway.

It’s a massively annoying struggle of being a commuter, and because San Jose traffic is so congested and bad, sleeping through alarms is even worse for SJSU commuters than most other commuters – a few minutes of sleep gained by closing your eyes for “just a few more seconds” or missing the alarm for your 8 A.M. class can mean not only showing up late, but even missing a huge portion of class altogether.

5. Being unable to focus in class because you just want to go home and sleep.

College student falling asleep in class

Every college student can relate to sitting through a class and wanting to go home the entire time, but SJSU commuters have an especially hard time. You know what this means if you’ve ever had to sit through an 8 A.M. lecture after a rough commute on I-680 full of heavy traffic. The professor goes on and on about the intricacies of organic chemistry or parallel circuits or whatever absolutely illuminating topic he/she has to lecture about today, and you can already feel your eyes drooping. Come on! you think. I had to drive all the way here by myself on I-680 with 30 cars in front of me the whole time, and THIS is what I get? 

Besides, unlike in high school where the teacher has to try and make class exciting for students, professors just straight up don’t care. They’re getting their paycheck even if only two students show up, so if you fall asleep in class, the only one losing is you, especially if you just happen to sleep through a pop quiz.

Overall, being a commuter is tough, but especially in SJSU. The combination of insanely congested traffic, buildings being super far apart, and waking up at ungodly hours to get to class on time means the college experience is more difficult for SJSU commuters than for the average SJSU student.


Saima Yunus

Hi! I'm a computer engineering student at SJSU. I enjoy writing, good television, and Peet's vanilla lattes.

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