By Rachel Whatley, Staff Writer
Commuter students might feel that they are on the outside looking in when it comes to campus life, but that should not stop them from being successful.
Commuters have to be more deliberate in getting involved than residential students do because so much of student life happens on campus. Even though they might feel that it is harder to connect or that finding parking is a hassle, there are certainly many advantages to living away from campus. Some students commute to save money, and others may feel it helps their studies. Misty Jaggers, Director for Student Success, said, “There might be less distractions because you’re not living in a residential setting with all your best friends.”
One excellent way to get connected is through Student Government. While SGA is a good organization for students to be part of, it can also help other students get involved in the events created by it.
Many majors have clubs or organizations that can be helpful for off-campus students to get to know other students in their field of study.
Jaggers recommends that off-campus students go to as many events as possible. “You’re going to see someone you know there….You’ll see someone from your class, or someone from your NSI family group.” Whether it is a concert or a sports game, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people. “If you don’t go [to events], you don’t feel like you’re a part,” said senior Kylee Bowman.
Off-campus students should also take advantage of commuter lunch because they can get lunch for a dollar every other Wednesday. This gives them an opportunity to eat lunch with their on-campus friends. Last semester, a new service was started to help off-campus students: commuter breakfast, which will take place in Pop’s and occur less often than commuter lunch.
“We’re going to be starting commuter connection,” said Jaggers, “where we highlight a part of campus….That will be one portion of the night. The other part will be getting to know other commuters over dinner before a school event.”
Freshman commuter students also have paired classes made up of their NSI family groups. This way, they can get to know their classmates even before school starts and, therefore, ease some of the worries of finding friends.
Off-campus students can make good use of their time between classes to do homework. The library is helpful to those looking for a quiet place, but if noise isn’t an issue, students can go to the fine arts lounge. Bowman recommends getting as much homework done as you can before heading to an event and to stick to a schedule.
Since only about a third of the student body commutes, it can be hard for the university staff to know what those students need. Off-campus students include not only those who live at home but also older students who might be living on their own – it is a broad range. So they should give feedback as much as possible. “Let your voice be heard,” said Jaggers, “and tell us what you need.”
For more information or help regarding commuting, Misty Jaggers’ office is located in Student Development.