I spent over an hour a day commuting to and from school for three years of my time in Eugene. I didn’t own a car, and I have a deep-seated and irrational (and embarrassing) fear of bicycles. So I walked everywhere, and sometimes took the bus.
Those long walks to school in the mornings and afternoons/evenings were some of my favorite chunks of time in college.
My favorite time-fillers on foot:
- Lanugage-learning tapes
- Phone calls
- Enjoying my surroundings
- Feeling smug about not being in a car or gym
- Brainstorming for essays
I used those commutes as time away from the internet to relax and recharge. I did that a whole bunch of ways during my college years. I listened to music. I got to know the neighborhoods. I called home. And eventually I discovered podcasts and a whole new world opened up to me. I walked in the rain, and occasionally in the snow. I felt sufficiently safe that I often walked at night down streets with reasonable levels of traffic, and the smell of rain and leaves on autumn evenings is one of the great sense-memories of Oregon I’ll keep with me in the long run. Because I walked, I always knew the phase of the moon and the relative size of cat populations in various neighborhoods. I got to know many folks by sight, and some to the point of greeting them. And (perhaps I’m admitting to some shaky ethics here), during the fall if there were apples rotting under trees I would help myself to any available ripe, unspoiled fruit under the assumption that the owners would rather it not go to waste.
The commutes of normal life were a freeing and relaxing time for me. They were a bit of a burden, but mostly they were a joy. It was my time at large in the world, and my chance to decompress. They also became an important time for brainstorming and essay planning, since thinking on your feet frees up creativity. Ideas flow more naturally for me when I'm in motion, and sometimes by the time I got home I had a mental map of a full essay, work plan, or some other creative project.
It’s sometimes hard to find time alone in college. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and overworked, or to feel that you need to be internet connected 24/7. I realize now that the internet is everywhere with phones, but I stand by the idea that it’s worth disconnecting for a while, however you do it.
Seriously, guys, call home while you're walking to class. Call your folks. Tell them how long the walk will be, so they know how much time you'll have to talk. You have a built-in conversation starter: tell them what you're seeing as you walk, what you'll be talking about in your next class. If you've got a fifteen minute walk, that's time to bring your parents into your daily life for a bit, and to catch up with things back home. I really enjoyed calling a highschool friend or a family member and asking them to “walk me home from school” and to have that company in motion.
The broader point in all this is that it’s important to seize opportunities to be settled in and comfortable with life and experiences. A forty-minute commute in a car would drive me nuts in a way that a long walk never would. But not everyone feels that way, and with a book on tape or a podcast, a car commute can be a breeze. I continue to have bike commuter envy, but there's not much I can do about that.
I'll be discussing the car factor elsewhere, but I want to just say here that it is very possible to live college life without a car. Of course this depends on where you are in the world, but even living off campus it's often possible and worth it. Strap on a good-quality backpack, plug into something you love to listen to, and head out into the world. Stride through some forward motion and head into your day. That’s time savored, and to the fullest.
Student’s Life Needs of Commuter Students
College life is an important part of life, which shapes the future of a student. Most of the colleges today offer residential facilities to help students collaborate with their peers, use library and computing facilities and other on-campus curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities necessary for their professional and personal development. However, depending upon choices and financial and social conditions, some students are unable to live on campus. Such students live at homes and dorms either with their parents, roommates, or alone and commute the college for their classes.
Commuter students are defined as those who do not live on the campus provided living facilities (Stewart & Rue, 1983). Research literature on types of commuter students finds two major types of commuter students; dependent commuters and independent commuters. Dependent commuters are college students who live in the parents, guardian, or relatives owned houses (Dugan, Garland, Jacoby, & Gasiorski, 2008).
Bloomquist (2014) investigated research literature on commuter students and found that living on-campus has been found to consistently determine the impact of college. Living on-campus plays an important role in students’ growth, personal and professional development, and overall success of the students on college studies. On the other hand, commuter students often face financial, social, and familial problems. Research found that on-campus students participate more in extra-curricular activities, have more positive perceptions about social climate of college and are more satisfied with their college experience as compared to commuter students (Bloomquist, 2014). The commuter students are left behind in these areas and thus they often drop out from college or stay disturbed due to dissatisfaction. Research found that main reasons behind low success rate and less satisfaction of commuter students are related to their financial, ethnic, and social backgrounds. However, this is necessary to help such students in a way so that they can get the best out of their college experience. The purpose of this research is to find the special needs of commuter students, which if fulfilled, will help commuter students to be able gain success to college, personal and professional development.
There are a number of facilities that can be talked about right away, which if discussed properly, would make it clear as to where the facilities lack satisfaction for commuter students and why such commuter students often drop out of college. As the purpose of this study is to find the special needs of students that, if fulfilled, will allow them to gain development in numerous ways, basic facilities and needs will be discussed first.
Belongingness has a very important role in students’ success. Research finds that feelings of not belonging are strongly related to lower academic performance among first semester students. Since commuter students live outside campus residence, they need ways to get connected with their peers in order to satisfy their need for belongingness (Bloomquist, 2014). In addition, they also need ways in which they feel belongingness with the college like increased communication from the institution to keep them informed of opportunities. Another factor that plays an important part in achieving belongingness needs for commuter students is by allowing cultural diversity to intensify in college atmospheres and in urban areas surrounding college atmospheres.
It is thoroughly discussed by Biddix (2015) as to how commuter needs can be verified and explicitly handled through the understanding of the culture of such commuter students and allowing their cultural values to be presented at college so that such commuter students would finally be able to experience belongingness in the college where they study. This would also allow such commuter students to feel at home, and in doing so, this would also allow the same commuter students to experience a rise in their academic interests as well as their grades and overall academic performance (Biddix, 2015). Through the usage of cultural knowledge, belongingness could be achieved at such a level that such commuter students could also feel comfortable in extracurricular activities and other similar activities on the college campus.
Commuter students go to college using public transport, or personally owned vehicles. In both cases, they need special attention as compared to on-campus resident students. For example, class schedules must be such that they can easily reach the premises and their respective classes considering all the rush and delays faced while using public transport. Another problem that may arise is the random weather conditions. The college administration must consider the weather conditions while scheduling classes and should therefore assist commuters in scheduling classes. In many cases, it is international commuter students who have the most difficulty in terms of transportation needs. This is probably because international students aren’t used to semi-urban and neighboring areas around their residence and the campus. It is also considerable that more than 80% international don’t know the public transport timings and routes when they first arrive.
All of this creates the impression that much is to be done in allowing international commuter students to know where they can get public transport and what timings they have to arrive at in order to avail public transport facilities without being late. In order to overcome such a problem, it is more than possible to create awareness about ow to use public transportation in the particular area where a college is situated in order to have the commuter students now when they need to get to a stop, where the stop is going to be, how much one journey is going to cost and what kind of public transport is cheaper for them (Poyrazli & Grahame, 2007). By allowing such programs to be initiated where public transport needs are addressed to international commuter students, a very big difference can appear in the number of classes that are missed by international commuter students as the number of classes missed would most likely fall since students would be more prepared to travel and arrive to classes on time rather than be late, since they are now informed of how they are supposed to travel to college, at what given time they should depart, and where they should access public transport from.
Students who commute to college using their personal transport facilities often face the issues of parking. For example, parking costs, distance of parking from campus building, parking safety etc. The educational institution must facilitate students in this regard so that they can feel comfort in reaching for classes. IN this manner, it is more than clear that parking facilities should be provided by the respective colleges to allow commuter students to park their cars in time and reach their respective classes without being late and without missing information that would be valuable to their academic performance. In this consideration, not only is increasing parking space important for commuter students, but it is also stated in a study that allowing traffic control within the areas of the college would also enable commuter students to arrive early and attend classes without being stressed from traffic (Jacoby & Garland, 2004). It would also not get them frustrated from not being able to find a parking spot, both of which are situations that could hamper a commuter student’s academic grade and provide him with dissatisfaction, rather than satisfaction.
For those commuter students who come by public transport, it is hard to bring heavy books, computing facilities like laptops, tablets etc. College can facilitate such students by providing free access to institutional computing facilities, library books etc. College can also provide e-readers to the students so that they can study during their travel to college on public buses and trains to utilize the long traveling times. Another way to allow such commuter students to become more self-aware and utilize their time through studying would be for the college or particular institution to promote self-study methods for the students within the college and outside the college premises through different programs, each highlighting a certain self-study practice that can allow commuter students to feel satisfied and continue to gain knowledge as they progress with their academic performance (Andreas, 1983). Hence, this would also allow the need of academic belongingness within commuter students to vanish and allow such commuter students to increase their intellectuality without being dissatisfied in the long course of studying.
Hence, three different types of needs for commuter students were discussed in this study and it was also discussed as to what ways were rpesented by institutions to handle such needs and how these needs are being fulfilled as of current times. It has become apparent that while there are many needs that remain unfulfilled for commuter students, it is also apparent that such commuter student needs can be tackled and solved by colleges and similar academic institutions if enough attention is paid to such needs.
Andreas, R. E. (1983). Institutional self‐study: Serving commuter students. New Directions for Student Services.
Biddix, J. P. (2015). Understanding and Addressing Commuter Student Needs: New Directions for Student Services. John Wiley & Sons.
Bloomquist, E. S. (2014). Developing a Sense of Belonging for Commuter Students: A Mixed Methods Study. Lincoln: University of Nebraska.
Dugan, J., Garland, J., Jacoby, B., & Gasiorski, A. (2008). Understanding commuter student self-efficacy for leadership: A within-group analysis. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 454-482.
Jacoby, B., & Garland, J. (2004). Strategies for enhancing commuter student success. Journal of College Student Retention.
Poyrazli, S., & Grahame, K. (2007). Barriers to adjustment: Needs of international students within a semi-urban campus community. Journal of Instructional Psychology.
Stewart, S. S., & Rue, P. (1983). Commuter students: Definition and distribution. New Directions for Student Services, 1-24.