College Life as an Off-Campus Student
For part-time and commuter students, who can live 30 or 45 minutes away from campus, it can be difficult to get involved in college life.
That can be a problem because getting involved is important. A study of students at Purdue University in fall 2009 showed that members of student organizations have higher GPAs than those who were not involved, and students who had been elected to an officer or leadership position had the highest GPAs.
Before commuter or part-time students have their first day on campus, there are a few ways they can ensure they’ll be engaged with campus life, says Janie Kerzan, community outreach director for the University of South Carolina.
Kerzan suggests that students who don’t live near or on campus should invest in a meal plan that’s flexible to their needs or offers a limited number of meals. Another good investment is a campus parking pass, allowing students to move around campus and take advantage of what the university has to offer.
She also encourages students to see campus as more than a classroom and to explore other amenities such as fitness centers.
“It’s to have fun, to meet people, to learn new things, to destress, just to take advantage of everything campus has to offer, not just the academic coursework,” she says.
She noted that many four-year schools offer a student orientation or hold events where students can discover the various activities on campus. And she encouraged students to work with their class schedules so it makes sense for them to be on campus later in the day, around times where clubs and activities are occuring.
Commuter and part-time student also can pay attention to single-day events or online programs, things that helped commuter students at Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina, said Chris Libert, the assistant director for athletics, activities and community relations.
“Just being involved with the numerous amount of community groups that participate in our functions as well could lead to a job or an internships or even a part time volunteer position,” he says.