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UNCP Orientation Leaders 2020-01

Supporting Your Commuter

The term commuter student is used to identify any college or university student who does not live in institution-owned, on campus housing.

Commuter students share many of the following characteristics:

  • Usually work (more hours) than students who reside on campus
  • May experience more challenges balancing family, education, and work
  • Difficulty building relationships with other students, staff, and faculty due to their limited time on campus
  • Are diverse in age, culture, and experience
  • Possibly face more challenges in financing their education, making them more likely to enroll part-time and resulting in them taking longer to complete their college degree

Being a commuter student does have its advantages. These include the following:

  • Living near campus can make it easier for family members to engage in on campus events
  • Family members may have more opportunities to meet and get to know their student’s new college friends
  • If living on their own, commuter students can experience higher levels of accountability, independence, and responsibility
  • Spend less on college expenses (Room and board, meal plans, etc.)

Supporting Your Student

It is important for family members to discuss reasons for attending college, along with concerns and expectations. Here are some more ways to support your student.

  • Learn about campus resources so you can provide guidance if your student faces challenges
  • Participate in campus events such as parent and family weekend with your student
  • Invite and include your student’s participation in family decisions
  • Expect that family dynamics will change
  • Ask your student to show you their midterm and final grades

Open Communication Strategies

Consider the followings actions to maintain communication with your student.

  • Be honest and open concerning issues related to family and school
  • Trust your student to make good choices, even if they are different from the choices you would make
  • Celebrate your student’s success; be careful to not focus only on mistakes
  • Avoid doing things for your student that they can do for themselves
  • Keep in mind that students may be faced with many challenges, but they have the talents, skills, and abilities to manage them

Published by: National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina

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