More and more college students are living at home to make higher education affordable. Some commute from the get-go, while others move back as sophomores or juniors to save money. As parents, how do we help our commuter students have the best possible college experience? This advice from higher-education expert Jo Calhoun is adapted from the UniversityParent Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year.
Commuter students need to be connected on campus. Students living at home during college deserve to experience the same developmental growth as residential students. That means they need to practice the same increasing independence and responsibility in their daily lives.
In addition, research shows that students who feel involved at their college or university are much more likely to persist to graduation than students who don’t fully engage on campus. Making these important campus connections is more challenging for commuter students.
Students living at home face two major stressors that residential students do not have. The first (unless your student bikes or uses public transportation) is parking. Have your student purchase a campus parking permit right away. Students who try to negotiate on-street parking accumulate tickets, fines and stress. The best strategy is to follow the rules from the start and factor extra time into the daily commute because parking spaces may be at a distance from class.
The second stressor is ongoing family expectations and obligations. Cultural differences abound and should be honored. But as parents, be aware that expecting your student to be home for dinner at 5:30 PM daily is no longer realistic. Missing class to drive Grandmother to her doctor’s appointment is not workable. You will want to sit down together to discuss a new approach to chores, curfew, etc.
Other recent stories by Jo Calhoun:
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