Inside Counts

Student Commute Distance & Academic Outcomes

 Categories: Student Experiences |Student Success 

PDF icon Student Commute Distance & Academic Outcomes

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Commute distance data were gathered from the CSUN Sustainability Program's Spring 2020 Annual Transportation Survey. The survey was conducted between February 17 and March 9, 2020¹. The survey item that is the focus of this report measured students’ reported distance from campus in miles.

A total of 2,665 students responded to the 2020 survey. These survey data were merged with semester-level academic and demographic background data compiled by the Office of Institutional Research, resulting in 1,137 undergraduate student observations post merge².


We recognize the possibility of response bias since the commute data are self reported from the Transportation Survey and may therefore not be representative of students in general. As a way to approximate commute distance based on data available from student records, we also ran analyses on estimated commutes, using students' presumed home addresses. These analyses indicated a similar small but statistically reliable effect of commute distance on GPA, though more so for Black/African American students than other groups (see Addendum for details).

The Office of Institutional Research has previously found that living in on-campus housing, especially living in Living Learning Communities, is associated with higher first-year GPA, higher probability of continuing for a third semester, and lower probability of being on academic probation after the first year. It is important to better understand how the various residency and commute situations for students may interact to impact academic outcomes.