Tips for Parents
Parenting a Commuter Student
Commuter students are juggling a lot, including making a place for themselves academically, socially and involvement-wise on campus. Campus life is not just for those students living in the residence halls! It's for commuters and their families, too.
You can help your student find his place and get the most out of college life by trying the following:
- Encourage involvement. Studies show that students who are more engaged on campus tend to stay and finish their degrees while those who feel on the fringes may not. So, encourage him to attend that rally during his lunch break or to attend an interest meeting for the school newspaper. Or maybe going to a car care workshop put on by the engineering department is more his speed. Trying things outside the classroom can help your student feel more a part of campus life, like he belongs.
- Don't expect to see a lot of your student. Chances are that your student has a full plate with school, work and other involvements. So, if she doesn't come home for dinner, maybe it's because a classmate invited her to the dining hall that night. You may miss her yet it's important that she's making these campus connections, too.
- Provide a quiet, comfortable study space. College studies require much more time and effort than high school studies ever did. So, your student may be spending several hours of study time for every hour that he is in class — that's what most professors suggest. He'll need time and space to study effectively, without interruptions.
- Suggest that your student connect with another adult on campus. If your student can find an adult mentor, whether it's a coach, advisor, professor or some other campus administrator, she'll feel much more connected to campus. This person can challenge her, support her and show her the ropes.
- Support your student's efforts. If he's presenting a paper at an academic symposium, try to attend. If she's playing in the school orchestra, go to the concerts. Attend athletic events, programs he helped to coordinate, conferences he worked on ... your support means a great deal, even if your student doesn't always let you know it.
- Stay involved. Get to know more about the campus where your student is spending a good deal of her time. Maybe meet her for lunch one day to check out different nooks and crannies, and to see the buildings where she has classes and other activities. Read the literature that comes from campus and get on the website regularly, if possible, to check out the latest news. Consider joining the parent association or volunteering to help with another campus group, too. You are welcomed!
Commuter students are such a vital, vibrant component of campus life—and so are their families. This campus belongs to everyone.
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