Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Michael Vetter


There has been substantial research conducted around facilitating student success at

institutions of higher education and exploring the student experience of undergraduate students,

specifically, those students who take part in the residential communities which have become

synonymous with the college experience. Through these studies, higher education administrators

have learned the significant role residential communities play in a student’s success and

persistence and have used these findings to inform master plans for institution’s

capital improvements, programmatic initiatives for residential communities and more. Although

this research is helpful for informing the decisions of higher education administrators as they

create plans for student success at their institution, it is important to note this literature and the

prevailing student development theories and academic research focuses primarily on residential

students at higher education institutions or utilized samples which neglected to differentiate between students who commute to campus and those who live on campus throughout the academic year. The purpose of this study is to identify if the prevailing theories of student development still reign true for students who commute to campus and what are the factors which contribute to the sense of belonging for students who commute to campus. Data collect in this study suggests a correlation does exist between a student’s sense of belonging score and student success, as defined by grade point average. Additionally, the data suggest the sense of belonging for a student who commutes to campus is more influenced by the number of campus activities the student attends each month and the amount of time the student spends on campus each week outside of their classes.