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3 Ways to Help College Students Build a Sense of Belonging that Supports Their Success

By: Katelyn Phillips on Sep 6, 2023 8:00:00 AM
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Research has shown time and time again that feeling a sense of belonging to a campus community is essential to the long-term success of students. Whether they live on campus, commute to and from classes, or learn online, students need to feel connected to their peers as well as their teachers and advisors. 

When they face challenges later down the line––whether it’s a difficult academic class or a personal experience that makes them rethink the value of continuing the pursuit of their degree––it’s these interpersonal connections and greater sense of belonging that will keep them in school and on track to complete their degree.

How do you help support students in making these vital connections and feel a sense of belonging? We’re sharing three proven strategies that can make it easier for your students to build crucial social, emotional, and interpersonal connections with their peers, faculty, and campus community. 

How to Build a Sense of Belonging for Students


#1. Create a digital space for your clubs and organizations to safely interact with each other.

While some students look to clubs and organizations for leadership opportunities, others see joining a specific group as a way to make like-minded friends or explore potential interests. Regardless of why they get involved, it’s clear clubs and organizations play a huge role in co-curricular life and often influence a student’s enrollment choice. In fact, when asked what factors they considered in choosing their university, more than 40% of college students said they considered what the feel of campus was and another 15% said they were looking for great extracurricular activities.

That’s why, as the Vice President of Student Experience & Dean of Students at Post University, Jeff Olsen has often emphasized how important it is to build out online spaces where students can safely interact with each other. For example, in addition to creating a digital campus wall where students can ask questions, source feedback, and share announcements, Post University also uses topic based channels to help student clubs and orgs communicate and organize themselves.

They have everything from pop culture clubs to language clubs to cultural heritage organizations, all connected in one place. Students can be part of just one organization or join multiple clubs and explore different interests. Plus, because clubs and organizations have a safe way to interact online, students can talk to one another freely and know they’re making real connections. Organizations can host hybrid events and meetings and club members can be part of the conversation, even if they aren’t able to attend the on-campus event or activity.

Jeff talks more about the digital social space on our webinar, The Power of Digital Community: Fostering Belonging Among Your Students to Increase Engagement.



#2. Create an easily shareable events calendar that caters to your specific student demographics.

When finding out about events and other campus life activities is easy and straightforward, students are more likely to show up and engage. They can focus on exploring their interests, getting to know their peers, and building important social connections. This is especially important for first-year and transfer students who can feel overwhelmed by the transition into a new school environment, and for student populations like adult learners and first-gen students whose experiences often differ from other student groups.

The first year they partnered with Ready Education, the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire created more than 1300 events. Each of the events were listed and promoted on their new mobile app which led to over 15,000 student registrations from the students. Students were able to find events that they liked on the app, RSVP, and even check-in upon arrival. 

Having an easy way to create, share, run, and check-in attendees for events can also help administrators better understand the topics and activities students are most interested in engaging with. This allows schools to really curate a calendar of fun, meaningful events that keeps students involved and continuing to build connections to one another and their communities.

3 Ways to Help College Students Build a Sense of Belonging that Supports Their Success

#3. Make it easy for students to support each other when they have questions or need access to resources.

A campus app that allows students to ask and answer each other’s questions in real time––from questions about financial aid and parking to what’s for lunch at the cafeteria–– can help students feel supported and experience a greater sense of belonging and trust to their institution.

With a population of more than 40,000 students, McGill University needs a way to facilitate real-time information sharing among students so they can find what they need anytime, anywhere, without having to rely on staff to respond. 

The Student Community Feed in their campus app allows students to crowdsource information amongst one another, meaning students are talking to each other and having positive interactions within their campus community from the very beginning of their college experience. After the app launched, McGill students crowdsourced more than 1500 queries pertaining to orientation amongst each other. The information sharing not only helped students connect, but it also saved 250 hours of staff time, allowing administrators to focus on more complex issues that come up at the start of the semester.


We hope these examples have helped you better understand some of the ways you can use a student engagement platform to help college students build connections that supports their success and increases their sense of belonging. From helping college clubs and orgs safely communicate with each other, to making it easy for students to find out about and attend events, and helping students answer each other's questions, a student engagement platform facilitates the kind of information sharing and collaboration that leads to strong social connections and supportive relationships.

If you’re curious about how our technology solutions can help you create a greater sense of belonging among your students, we’d love to speak with you. Please use this form to get in touch with us.