Sign Up to Learn About First-Year Commuter Students’ Needs and Challenges

Boise State is increasing its efforts to improve student outcomes and first-year retention rates. As a part of the Association of Public Land Grant Universities “Powered by Publics” initiative, and in partnership with The Idaho State Board of Education, Boise State is working to implement student retention strategies in the coming year.

Over the past year, the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs and Enrollment Management collaborated on a research effort to better understand students and where to direct new student success strategies. That research (both quantitative and qualitative) led the team to the conclusion that first-year commuter students would benefit from targeted retention interventions.

As a result, Boise State’s Student Success and Retention Committee has begun designing a series of interventions for first-year commuter students. Predominantly from the Treasure Valley, these students tend to be first-generation students, experience higher financial need, take fewer credits (12 vs. 15) and work more hours. Institutional data shows that their outcomes fall behind their peers who chose to live on campus their first year.

Last summer, the committee hosted IDeation, an event that convened a group of 70 faculty, staff and students to learn more about the needs of first-year commuter students in order to inspire and develop new ideas for campus. Participants were able to listen to video interviews of students’ challenges and opportunities, in order to inspire new ways to improve these students’ Boise State experience.

The committee has begun working groups to address four main areas to increase student retention in the coming year.

  • Eliminating unnecessary administrative barriers
  • Developing classroom interventions
  • Increasing the sense of mattering and belonging
  • Reaching out to students that are eligible to be enrolled but are not yet

In addition, the Center for Teaching and Learning has convened a faculty learning community to better understand how the classroom can be a catalyst to help these students and will be piloting classroom interventions in the near future.

Individuals interested in learning more about first-year commuter students and how to (re)design programs, classes, spaces, and policies with their needs in mind, they can sign up for the First-year Commuter Student Success email series.

For the next 10 weeks, select students will express some of their hopes, frustrations and goals via this series of emails. At the conclusion of the series, individuals can download The First-Year Commuter Student-Centered Design Companion to help facilitate conversations and learn how to better design for these students.