For many college students, back-to-school means unpacking boxes and decorating dorm rooms. For commuter students, back-to-school means putting gas in the car and checking the brakes.
Sometimes commuter students can feel “out of place” or disconnected from campus. Adding to this disconnect, these students may find it tedious to stay on campus longer than necessary and thus refrain from joining clubs.
To help new students adjust, some veteran commuters choose to be mentors. These mentors are always available in times of uncertainty.
Sophomore biology major Marina Shenouda chose to become a mentor because of the help she received last year.
“A lot of emphasis is put on resident students and how they adjust. At the same time, commuters have a lot of adjusting as well,” Shenouda said. “Just because we live at home doesn’t mean the struggles aren’t there. My commuter mentor helped me out last year quite a bit, so I’m hoping I can help others in the same way.”
Shenouda encourages commuters to get involved on campus and, most importantly, to meet new people. “I love meeting friends in the coffeehouse,” Shenouda said, “and I recommend going to SAB events.”
Some freshmen commuters are finding places on campus on their own. For Katie Corsaro, a freshman biology major, connecting to peers isn’t too grueling. “I like going to social events, like the ice-cream social,” Corsaro said. “It helps me connect with both residents and commuters.”
Other commuters like enjoying all the campus facilities that are accessible to them. Access to the gym and the library are included in tuition, so students take advantage of these places. Mathematics major Brittany Timothy, another Pitt-Greensburg student, likes to explore the campus for new hangout spots. “I really enjoy finding new study places and places that have useful resources, such as the many computer labs,” Timothy said.
Despite the challenges they face, Pitt-Greensburg commuter students luckily have the support they need to adjust. Al Thiel, Director of Student Activities, helps manage the commuter mentor program. “The mentors and mentees are assigned based on majors and hometowns. Throughout the semester, mentors send their mentees weekly tips and updates,” Thiel said. “Some of our plans [for the program] include car-care day, Chick-Fil-A day, a pizza party, breakfast sandwiches, giveaways, and more.”