Commuter Connections: What it’s like to be a ‘bury native attending SU

11/11/2014

BY EMILY BAQIR
Staff Writer

A common question that any college student gets asked is “Why that school?”

The answers vary; it has a great nursing program, I thought the campus was nice, it was the nicest school I could afford and the list goes on.

As a Salisbury local that attends Salisbury University, I have noticed a little extra emphasis on the “why” when I am asked that question. I will admit that SU was not my first choice. University of Maryland College Park was, and if it were not for a lack of funds, I would be there right now.

However, as the first semester of my junior year quickly comes to an end, I am not afraid to admit that a massive part of me is happy UMD did not work out.

Despite SU not being my be-all, end-all of universities, once I began I saw that it was not bad at all. I liked my classes and professors, mostly. I chose to remain living at home, so it is nice seeing my dogs, family and high school friends on a regular basis.

Plus, what many students do not realize is SU is overly accommodating for their commuter students.

SU has a service for just about everything. There is the University Writing Center, the Center for Student Achievement, Career Services, Health Services and even a nutritionist.

When SU saw a need for a service for its approximately 6,000 commuters, Commuter Connections was created.

Commuter Connections, located in Room 222 in GUC, was designed to give commuters the same experiences and benefits that those living on campus have. It was a way to bring together students who have commuting in common and to show them they are not alone.

One program in particular, the Commuter Assistance Program, was the ultimate form of that.

“We introduce the commuter freshmen to the program during Orientation 101,” Commuter Connections coordinator Shannon Henry said. “These freshmen commuter students are paired with experienced commuter students and act as a guide and or resource for them during their first semester.”

Students are matched based on majors and interests to give the freshman student a like-person to learn from.

The Commuter Assistance Program is not the only thing that Commuter Connection offers. It also has a commuter breakfast series in which commuter students gather for breakfast and catch-up and a commuter lunch series in which commuter students are taught valuable lessons, such as how to get involved on campus and how to make the most of a study abroad experience. In addition, Commuter Connections also offers tips and advice for living safely off campus and how to be a good neighbor.

Another Salisbury native, Kelsey Reichenberg was happy about her change in schools as well.

She originally attended Radford University in Virginia with a dance major but returned home when she injured herself. Once back in Salisbury, she started at SU and rented an apartment with friends.

“Although Salisbury University was not my first choice in schools, I have no regrets with transferring here,” Reichenberg said. “I enjoy being close to home and in an environment that is familiar to me. I have also had a great experience in Zeta Tau Alpha, working in the University Writing Center and working in a lab in TETC. I would not change anything.”

When I began SU as a freshman in 2012, my mother tried passionately to get me to sign-up for the Commuter Assistance Program. I refused, believing that I would be spending four long years at SU and then never think twice about it.

I did not think I needed a connection to my school, and during my freshman year, I did not have one. I should also add that during my freshman year I was close to miserable.

It was for those reasons that Commuter Connections was created.

“It is so easy for students who have no connection to their school to begin to falter in their classes because they do not have that support and eventually drop out,” Henry said.  “Additionally, we want all students to have access to the Salisbury University experience. To fully experience what it means to be a Sea Gull.”

The efforts of campus organizations, like Commuter Connections, are important and worthwhile. Some would say that not all the experiences college students expect would be fulfilled though.

“The only disadvantage of attending SU as a Salisbury native is the difference in my true college experience in comparison to my friends who attend out-of-state schools or other schools across Maryland,” said Reichenberg.

Like Reichenberg, I too feel there is a small hole in my college experience. While my high school classmates are miles away from home, experiencing life outside our hometown, I am still in the place I was born and raised, in the same house with the same parents, not that I want different ones or anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I love SU and am extremely happy that I ended up there. While I am all for students leaving the nest and going to school outside their hometowns, I would not hesitate to advocate for staying.

Even though it may have taken a little longer than I would have liked, being a Salisbury local attending SU is pretty awesome.

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