Commuting Impedes Student Involvement
Commuting might be a greater hazard to student success than anyone thought.
At Old Dominion University, 76 percent of students commute to campus. According to a study conducted by California State University in Sacramento, students who commute to campus from parents’ homes or housing that is more than a five-minute drive from campus are 65 percent less likely to get involved with their campus. The study also found that students who were less involved on campus were more likely to drop out of school altogether.
In an email, Melissa DiGianfilippo, vice president of public relations for Phoenix-based Serendipit Consulting, explained some of her company’s findings.
“Students who drive to campus communicate less with their teachers and do not take advantage of the abundant opportunities that are offered on campus,” she said. “Commuters are unlikely to develop key relationships with people who are involved with co-curricular activities, community service or take advantage of study abroad and internship opportunities. Those relationships help provide the essential fundamentals and foundation for graduates striving to attain starting position in their field.”
“A lot of students don’t want the dorm life; it isn’t very private,” said Eric Schnieder, the general leasing manager of The District ODU. “Most on-campus housing options have students sharing a room. It is rare, even unheard of, that a student is able to get their own bathroom.”
Many of the students interviewed have said that with the policies for ODU’s on-campus housing, it feels more like living in a boarding school rather than in an apartment.
“Dorms are strict with their rues. Rules are even strict in the Village,” said student Jasmine Camacho, speaking about the upper-classmen dorms.
Some students choose to compromise, finding near-campus housing like The District. “You get the privacy of living off campus with the luxury of being on campus,” Schneider said. Nearly all campus amenities are a 10-minute walk from The District.
In addition, The District holds social events for its residents and their guests, once they are properly signed in. These events consist of game nights, cookouts at their pool, study sessions with complimentary Red Bull energy drinks, watch parties for those who enjoy watching their favorite TV shows with friends, and other perks like free Scantrons that are handed out during exam week. These social events happen at least once a week and sometimes more often, depending on what new shows or football games are airing during that particular week.
“I had to live off campus,” Schnieder said. As a transfer student, housing was not guaranteed for him, even if it was needed. “It’s a big hassle; gotta be home before traffic starts. Because of the long commutes, I spend an hour commuting instead of being able to be on campus.”
“It’s less convenient to commute,” said Josiah Patrick, a commuter student and member of Monarch 2 Monarch and The Modern Gentlemen. “Parking is awful and parking passes are hardly worth the price.”
Trying to find available spots or meter parking is a constant annoyance he regularly suffers through to attend classes and his clubs. Several others who were interviewed agree with Patrick, although the majority of ODU’s student population is commuters, they are not catered to enough.
Commuter students often do not find the time or have the patience to stay on campus longer than they have to. They also suffer with no place to relax immediately after a long day of class. Driving all the way home and coming back usually requires going out of the way, and can be a waste of time and gas.
“It’s not that people don’t want to [stay on campus], it’s just that when it is time to go, it’s time to go,” said student Shae Bagby.
By Robert Williams