Myths and Realities
About Commuter Students
1. Myth! Most students live in residence halls; commuter students make up a small percentage of the University’s campus.
Reality! About 90 percent of The University of Akron’s students commute.
2. Myth! Commuter students would rather be living on campus.
Reality! Students choose to commute for various reasons: financial reasons, family reasons, they prefer to live at home, etc.
3. Myth! The commuter student population is so splintered and diverse that commuter students have nothing in common.
Reality! Although commuter students are a diverse group, they share common concerns. Whether they are of traditional age or adult learners, living with parents or in off-campus housing, students who commute face concerns related to how they will get to campus, balance their multiple roles, manage their time, and integrate their life off campus with their own lives on campus.
4. Myth! Commuter students lag behind resident students in their development.
Reality! Theories about college student development have traditionally been developed and formed on traditional-aged, residential students and cannot be accurately applied to commuter students. In some areas of development, such as autonomy and interpersonal relationships, commuter students may, in fact, excel.
5. Myth! Commuter students are apathetic and are not as academically motivated as residential students.
Reality! Commuters demonstrate a high degree of motivation when pursuing their academic goals. In the face of obstacles (financial difficulties, competing priorities, parking problems) and on top of a full and demanding life off campus, commuters often have clearer educational goals and pursue them more tenaciously.
6. Myth! If commuter students wanted to be “real” college students, they would get more involved in campus life.
Reality! Often we assume commuters are not involved because their activities do not fit our definitions of involvement (campus clubs and organizations). On a closer look, however, commuters are often living very active and involved lives- contributing through community service, developing skills through employment, and investing time in family relationships.
7. Myth! Commuter students are not interested in attending campus events.
Reality! Commuters will indeed participate in campus programs if they are designed to meet their needs: when the timing, location, and format are determined with commuters in mind and full information about the program and its value reaches student in time for them to rearrange their schedules.
8. Myth! It is impossible to reach commuter students since they spend so little time on campus.
Reality! Because commuters cannot rely on getting information about campus programs, services, and opportunities through the grapevine, institutions need to be creative in developing ideas to reach them. Multiple methods are required, including direct mail to student homes, fliers in the parking lots, local radio, newspapers, websites, and classroom announcements.
9. Myth! One office can adequately address the needs of the commuter students.
Reality! Having an individual or office on campus that provides services for commuters and advocates on behalf of their needs can be an important commuter resource; however, the responsibility cannot be adequately executed by one office alone. Effectively serving the needs of commuters requires an institution-wide commitment.
10. Myth! It is not cost effective for institutions to increase services and programs for commuter students.
Reality! Increasing resources directed toward services and programs for commuter students can result in increased retention and alumni support.
11. Myth! Parking is commuter students’ biggest dissatisfaction with campus life.
Reality! Although parking is often the first articulated, in reality commuters are equally dissatisfied with the difficulty in developing relationships with peers and faculty, often feeling as though they do not “belong.”
12. Myth! Knowing and using information on this sheet is all I need to enhance the educational experience of the commuter students at The University of Akron.
Reality! It is more important to be cognizant of the demographics and interactions of commuter students on your campus in the context of the information on this sheet.