Overall, I feel that commuter students are not a priority amongst institutional leadership. As a member of the Campus Life and Leadership team at small 4-year private institution; the majority of the student body are commuter students. However, many of the initiatives implemented by our office are exclusively for residential students. Therefore, we are ignoring the needs of commuter students. As a department and team, our mission is to build competencies within all students within the campus community, at the moment will are only catering to a portion of the camps community.
Jacoby and Garland offer a variety of strategies to engage commuter students in Strategies for Enchaining Commuter Student Success. The strategies that I believe would work well within my campus community are addressing the learning and environmental needs of commuter students. Jacoby and Garland state “The social and environmental milieus of college and university campus affect individual learning for better or for worse (Jacoby & Garland, 2004). Therefore, administrators must implement institutional initiatives to address the academic and environmental needs of commuter students. For example, at my undergraduate institution commuters did not have any lounge or rest space. They were encouraged to utilize the campus library. However, commuter students did not find the campus library welcoming or comfortable. Ultimately, commuter students were given a lounge within the campus center. The lounge served dual purposes, as it created a space for programming to occur for commuter students.
My current institution would benefit from creating engagement opportunities for commuter students, as they are the majority amongst students. Once commuter students are engaged, initiatives can be further developed to address their academic and environmental needs.
Jacoby, B. & Garland, J. (2004). Strategies for enhancing commuter student success (PDF).J. College Student Retention. 6(1), pp. 61-79