10 Ways to Turn Your Work Commute Into a Study Session

TESU blog_commuting to work 

Every day, you drive 45 minutes to work, and then 45 minutes back. Spending an hour and a half each day - seven and a half hours every week - sitting in traffic. Imagine what you could accomplish in that amount of time. If only you could use those hours where you really need it: for schoolwork!

But what if you could make better use of the time you spend commuting to and from work? What if you could get some studying or course work done at the same time?

Whether you take a bus, train or drive yourself, there’s a solution. All you need is your everyday smartphone, tablet or laptop. Add a pair of headphones or hook up an auxiliary cable to another speaker source, and you are all set, equipment wise.

There’s a time-saving method out there waiting for you, so you’re bound to get more use out of your 24 hours that we all get each day. Here’s to more productive commutes.


If you commute by car:

1. Download your course textbook as an audiobook.

A good place to start is to determine whether your course textbook exists in audiobook format. To check, consult the University’s official bookstore, MBS Direct, when buying your books, or visit the publisher’s website. You can also find additional audiobook resources through sites like Audible.com (an Amazon company) and Barnes & Noble. Both websites have the standard search options for textbooks, including title/author, and ISBN number. Just be sure to look for audiobook format listed on the item.

2. Convert your textbook or notes into an audio file.

But what if after checking with your college bookstore and looking online, you can’t seem to find a version of your textbook in audio format? Not a problem. If you have the textbook available as an eBook or digital format, you can use programs like iSpeech and Natural Reader, both offer free basic versions, to convert the text into speech. Or add your own course notes to get a speech version. 

3. Record yourself reading aloud and playback the audio later.

Whether you are reading from your textbook or notes, recording yourself and listening to the audio files later will help increase your retention of the material. Add music or dramatic flair to really internalize the information when you play it back later.

4. Use text-to-speech programs to proofread your work.

Once you’ve done the bulk of the work writing and editing your papers or projects, you can proofread your work easily by cutting and pasting the text into a text-to-speech program and converting it for easy listening. Then, just sit back and listen to catch any glaring errors your eyes might have missed.

5. Explain concepts aloud and in your own words.

Use your own words to explain or rephrase any concepts, definitions or descriptions you need to remember to, again, increase retention of the material. Connect these concepts to anything you can relate to, like your favorite TV show, made up rhymes or your own life experiences. Or, pretend you are explaining the concept to someone else, like an imaginary student or even a child.

6. Record yourself asking questions and answer those questions later upon playback.

Create a playlist of mp3 (audio) files, each file with its own distinct question. Start by recording each one aloud and pause long enough to answer the question. Then, record the answer. For example, an audio file would sound like this:

You: What is two plus two?

(take a 5-second pause)

You: Four.

Create a playlist of these files on your smartphone and listen to them on shuffle on your way to work.


If you commute by train or bus:

1. Download your course textbook as an eBook.

If you don’t have to keep your eyes on the road, downloading an eBook will allow you to access your course material whenever you want, without all the heavy weight. And, with all the digital features available on today’s tablets, you can highlight text and add notes on a page. You can also finish a chapter on one device and pick it up on another with programs like the Kindle Reading app, ideal for the days you forget your tablet at home but still need to study.

2. Watch video tutorials, lessons and lectures.

YouTube offers thousands of videos that break down complex concepts through simple tutorials and detailed explanations. Search for your type of course and find videos that help you understand the material in a fun way. Or, if you are preparing for an exam, watch videos related to your course to increase your retention of the study material.

3. Create outlines for research papers, assignments and projects.

Chances are you already know what you want to address in your writing, so even if you don’t have your textbook or notes with you, you can still focus on writing a content outline. Brainstorm and list the ideas you want to make, and organize your ideas into subsections. Jotting down a few main ideas in advance can help you save time in the writing process later on.

4. Get free tutoring and writing assistance through Smarthinking.com.

Enrolled students at TESU have access to free online academic tutoring from Smarthinking.com. This service enables you to drop in on a tutoring session or schedule a session with a live tutor from your laptop as well as your iPad via their iOS app. Use the writing center to submit your work for an expert to review and provide feedback. And when you need some study help, access subject-specific study guides and resources for a myriad of topics, like statistics, accounting, organic chemistry and more.

Topics: Going Back to College, Work-Life Balance