Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Vicki Rosser, Chair

Second Committee Member

Mario Martinez

Third Committee Member

Bob Ackerman

Graduate Faculty Representative

Angelina Hill

Number of Pages



The residential-versus-commuter student comparison has been contemporaneous in higher education research since Arthur Chickering's classic study in 1974. However, the majority of these empirical comparisons were conducted at residential institutions or used a variety of institutions that were weighted toward residential institutions. Therefore, there is a need for further empirical research comparing traditional residential and commuter students at commuter institutions. This study compared the student profile characteristics, which were categorized as demographic, prematriculation, and matriculation, between traditional residential and commuter students at a public, research-intensive, urban commuter university. Status attainment served as the theoretical framework for this comparative classification study. By using secondary institutional data, the researcher employed a discriminant function analysis to examine how the student profile characteristics were classified between the two student groups.

The results of the study suggest that compared to their residential student peers, commuter students were more likely to be Hispanic and were more likely to be in-state students. Compared to their commuter student peers, residential students were more likely to be African American, possess a higher socioeconomic status, have parents with a higher level of education, accumulate more grossed units (class credits), and use higher amounts of financial aid in the forms of work study, grants, and loans. There were no differences in prematriculation characteristics, which were defined as high school GPA and standardized tests, between to the two student groups. When comparing the academic success measures within the matriculation characteristics, there were essentially no difference between the residential and commuter students, as GPA, retention, and academic standing did not receive group membership. The only academic success measure that classified between the two groups was cumulative grossed units. Therefore, this study suggested that commuter students at this commuter institution were not disadvantaged in terms of academic success, which diverges from the greater body of previous research.


Commuting college students; College students; Commuter; Residential; Student housing; Students; Universities and colleges; University; Urban; Urban universities and colleges


Educational Administration and Supervision | Higher Education Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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