Creating connection points for commuting students can help overcome barriers to their engagement. To explore this concept, we asked Cathy R. Briggs, Ed.D, Dean of Student Success and Lauren Kuski, Associate Director, Programming & Administrative Operations for the Chamberlain Student Center & Campus Activities at Rowan College at Burlington County (NJ), their views about ways to help reduce commuter students’ feelings of alienation and lack of campus involvement. Here’s what they had to say about the 85% of students who commute to campus…

“Per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 15% of students live on-campus which means a vast majority of our undergraduate student populations commute to their campus in some way! Even though commuters are the vast majority of our campuses, they may often feel excluded and struggle with the ‘13th grade’ mentality. As educators and administrators, how do we foster community for this population?

“First, we need to learn more about our commuter population in order to meet their unique needs.  Commuters are not a monolith – they are transfers, parents, low-income, first generation, locals, and the list goes on! We need to recognize our students have different needs and provide the programs and support that they want from their institution.

“Next, we need to meet students where they are, both mentally and physically. We tend to host programs and services in spaces that we think are attracting the most students, but is this where commuters are going? If the commuter lot is not located near this building, we are likely doing this population a disservice. Instead, let’s offer programs and services closer to where they park, in the academic buildings, or offer non-traditional hours for meetings.

“Finally, we need to intentionally create space for them. What is our campus offering that makes our commuters feel part of our community? From simply having accessible parking to academic buildings and student centers to having a space that they can heat their meals easily to being able to find their voice and community on campus.”

To learn more from Lauren and Cathy, join us for “Commuter Students: Create Connection Points That Overcome Barriers for Engagement,” a webinar on April 26 from 2-3:30 pm (ET)