Commuter students face many of the same adjustment-to-college concerns all students face: making new friends, finding ways to become involved, time management, handling college finances, and learning new study skills. There are also some unique challenges for students living at home or off campus.
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Commuters often believe their classmates who live on campus have more time to engage socially and therefore have more fun, friends, and freedom. Commuters can have the same opportunities as residential students, but where they live means they must approach those opportunities somewhat differently.
What Family Can Do
Family who understand the unique challenges of commuter students can help make the college experience better for their student.
- Acknowledge the commute. Recognize the time your student spends waiting for a bus, riding to school, driving, or finding parking. Scheduling a checkup on the car, will show your student that you think his or her commute is important.
- Acknowledge your student’s commitment to academics. By talking about changes in family chores and granting more flexibility for household responsibilities, you will let your student know that you understand and respect that college is demanding.
- Be alert to stressful times; mark them on your calendar. Midterms and exams are particularly difficult times for students. Taking over chores for your student, providing treats, or filling the gas tank of the car are valued gifts during those difficult times.
- Encourage your student to stay on campus between classes and to attend athletic events, concerts, and other student activities. Students feel more committed to college and have a higher success rate when they participate in activities and share experiences with other students.
- Assist your student by purchasing or encouraging them to purchase the Commuter Meal Plan. Eating on campus is another way students can connect to each other and develop important peer networks of support.
- Most commuter students work. There are benefits to working at an on-campus job. The support of college-based supervisors and the time on campus are beneficial.
- Be aware of campus news and events. Ask your student to explain the things you don’t understand. If you acknowledge the importance of what’s happening at the college or university, your student will, too.