Needs and problems of commuter students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Elkinton, Deborah Jackson
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The research which is to follow was undertaken to investigate and identify needs and problems of commuter students at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. This segment of the student population represents approximately 13% of the population. Forty-eight percent lived in off campus apartments, while 38% lived in college-owned residence halls. A commuter student was defined as a student living at home while attending UW-L. Five areas of study were pursued: (1) general information, (2) employment and finance, (3) student activities, (4) scheduling of academic program, and (5) feelings of commuters. A questionnaire was designed to provide data. Items on the questionnaire were based on previous findings concerning commuter student needs and problems as related in the literature. A 20% random sample of single, undergraduate commuter students in attendance at UW-L fall semester, 1976, were mailed questionnaires for completion. To analyze the data, the number and percentage of the responses to each question was computed. Results were discussed with two areas: the entire respondent population and demographic sub-groups. From this data it was possible to identify needs and problems. The results of the study indicated that UW-L commuter students share most of the needs and problems cited in the literature. Those common to both were: application only to the college attended; expense; proximity to home, and convenience to work were major reasons given for attendance; high employment rate; no single source of financial support toward education; no particular day was most convenient for attendance at on-campus programs or events; a limited extra-curricular involvement, low frequency of attendance at on-campus programs or events, and marginal membership in campus organizations; class schedule was arranged so as to minimize amount of time spent on campus; little participation in intellectual or class related topics of conversation with fellow students; left campus as soon as classes were over and found it difficult to meet people or develop close relationships with on-campus students; high school friends were closest and most frequent companions; felt a lack of information about services and programs offered by the university; found it inconvenient to stay or return to campus for events or weekend programs; were expected to perform certain home or family duties; and tended to feel conflicting values between school, home, and work.