Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Higher Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Laila McCloud

Academic Year



Commuter students tend to lack a sense of belonging compared to residential students which decreases their likelihood of academic success and retention to graduation. Astin’s (1984) theory of student involvement is the theoretical framework for this project, stating that increased quality and quantity of involvement on campus leads to improved student success. The research reviewed in this project shows that commuter students have three major barriers to involvement: practical challenges with the act of commuting, increased off-campus responsibilities, and difficulty connecting with students, faculty, and staff. The research also supports Astin’s theory among commuter students, showing that the benefits to involvement for commuter students are an improved sense of mattering and belonging, improved academic success, and improved stress management skills. Research also showed that commuter students were more likely to utilize spaces that were in naturally lit, scholarly atmospheres which often translated to library spaces. Current support structures for commuter students exist in some universities’ policies, marketing, and academic and extracurricular programming that assist commuter students in getting involved and socialized on campus. Commuter Days is designed as a bi-weekly support program for commuter students and Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Commuter Days’ programming aims to teach commuter students the three benefits of involvement, assist commuter students in connecting with faculty, help commuter students identify campus resources, and help commuter students develop stress management strategies. To achieve these goals, Commuter Days programming will include a Resource Fair, faculty meet and greets, coping and stress management workshops, family events for faculty staff and students, and a peer mentorship program. Student feedback will be collected by surveys to stay alert to the needs of GVSU’s commuter students and make programmatic adjustments accordingly.