Sense of Belonging
Feeling connected to others at your institution
For many students, thinking about college involves two things: studying hard and making lots of friends. However, once arriving at college, many students can feel like they don’t belong. If you find yourself feeling this way, the first thing to understand is that you are NOT alone.
It is very common for new college students to feel like there aren’t other students they can relate to, or that the problems they’re facing are unique. Rest assured, there are many students who have faced what you’re facing - both right now and in past semesters. Making an effort to reach out to other students and learn about them is a good first step to feeling less isolated. Learning from experienced students who have faced and overcome those challenges is even better.
It’s also common to feel like the people at your college or university aren’t there to help. Faculty and staff can seem busy, important, or disinterested. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Those people work in higher education just to help students like you. So if you’re feeling isolated or like a problem is too big to handle, asking a faculty member or advisor is one of the most helpful things you can do.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
How can I improve my Sense of Belonging?
Strategies to Use
In each course you’re taking, try to spark up a conversation with just one student you don’t already know. Appreciate both the ways in which you are similar and different. Regardless of those things, it’s likely that you both have similar goals (i.e., a college degree) and similar challenges to face to get there.
Resources at Your Institution
Talking with your advisor is always a great first step. Not only can they help you directly, but they also might know of other resources based on your interests.
Ask about a “peer mentor.” These are students just like you who have persisted, been successful, and can share what it’s like to overcome the initial hurdles of college.
Your school has more activities, clubs, and programs than you can possibly know. Participating in one is a great way to not just make friends, but also feel a little more involved in the campus community. They look good on your résumé, too!
“Getting involved” doesn’t always have to include things on campus. Try Meetup.com to explore volunteer opportunities in and around your community.