Extended hours, transit options make a difference for students juggling responsibilities

by | Aug 18, 2015

Breanna Tarkington, who often rides her three-wheel bike to campus, appreciates the ways UMSL serves its busy students, like extending office hours as a new semester approaches.
Breanna Tarkington

Breanna Tarkington, who often rides her three-wheel bike to campus, appreciates the ways UMSL serves its busy students, like extending office hours as a new semester approaches. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Not every college student’s daily schedule starts at 6 a.m. But University of Missouri–St. Louis senior Breanna Tarkington isn’t every college student.

“I start work at about seven in the morning, and then I get off at 2:30 p.m. and typically have class right after that,” said the pre-med student, who juggles being a parent along with her biology studies and job. “They’re long days.”

The fact that UMSL extends office hours this time of year at key locations across campus makes her life a little more manageable. Offices are open later into the evening and on weekends as a new semester kicks off.

“It gives me a chance to get stuff done,” Tarkington said of the extended hours, which continue through the end of August. That “stuff” ranges from financial aid questions, to visiting the bookstore, to making a convenient appointment with her academic adviser.

The longer hours make a significant difference for Pierre Laclede Honors College student Mitchell Haskin as well. While pursuing a degree in electrical engineering, he works a fulltime job doing tree removal.

“I typically don’t know when my workday’s going to end,” Haskin said. “It also makes it so I don’t have to take a day off of work.”

As commuters, both Haskin and Tarkington see it as another instance of the convenience and flexibility that have characterized their experiences at the university.

“UMSL really caters to the students who, you know, aren’t traditional,” said Tarkington, who is also busy planning a November wedding. “We work jobs, we have kids, and they do things for us. There’s Tiny Tritons, which is pretty awesome. There are clubs that commuters can actually participate in.”

Haskin spent several years attending community college part time before making the switch to UMSL and entering the UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program. Typically a car-free commuter to campus, he touts the easily accessible transit as another benefit of choosing the university.

campus shuttle tracking

A new shuttle-tracking feature is accessible through the UMSL mobile app.

“UMSL was really convenient, and I could afford it,” he said. “It’s easy to get around.”

A newly unveiled smartphone app should make navigating campus even easier for members of the campus community who use the campus shuttle to get around.

“Information Technology Services has been working with the Shuttle Solutions Committee and Campus Life on this,” said ITS project manager Wayne North, who noted that the feature is now available through the UMSL mobile app. It offers real-time tracking of shuttles, which will arrive more often – approximately every 10 minutes during the daytime.

Relatively small – but serious – changes like these can have a big impact for students, including Haskin and Tarkington, who is now in her final year at UMSL. In turn, those students further their impact on the region and the world.

“One of my dreams is to build my own drug rehab center in St. Louis,” said Tarkington, who has already completed an internship at one such community resource and plans to pursue public health after graduation. “It would deal with the children of the patients as well as helping them get their first job, their first house, things like that.”

The UMSL Experience

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill