Families & Visitors<< Back to September 2012 Newsletter
A Sense of Belonging
Seeking out a place to belong is a potent force in most students’ lives, as they try to find their fit on campus.
Sometimes, this search for belonging can lead them to get involved with activities and people that may not be the best for them. So, here are some simple suggestions in the search for positive belonging…
Attend Interest Meetings. This month and next will be filled with interest meetings for students who might like to get involved with everything from the student newspaper to the anime club to the campus chorus. Encourage your student to give things a try – it’s an easy way to gather information and have an “in” with campus groups.
Say “Yes” to Invitations. A res life student staffer may ask your student to attend a program or go to dinner with a group. It’s time to say “yes”! Many invitations will be issued this month, to community events, meals, campus activities and more. Encourage your student to go along with these positive people to get to know others in safe, fun group settings!
Keep Your Door Open. For students living on campus, an open door signals, “Hi, I’m friendly and you’re welcome to pop in.” It doesn’t mean students should <<always>> keep their doors open, yet making it a regular practice will soon encourage others to interact.
Find a Mentor or Advisor. Another way to increase a sense of belonging is by connecting with a faculty or staff member who can serve as a source of challenge and support. This might be an organizational advisor, a faculty member your student clicks with, a coach, someone from campus ministry or another adult figure.
Seek Purpose. We often feel most like we belong when we’re doing purposeful work with like-minded individuals. So, for your student this might mean volunteering through the community services office to work on a Habitat for Humanity project, a playground clean-up or a tutoring program. Other students find this purpose through their classes and meaningful group work, or by getting involved with hall council to improve their residential community. There’s a lot to be said for the power of purposeful work.
Follow-Up. Students will be finding out bits and pieces about many people in the coming weeks, as they have informal conversations in lines, at meals, between classes and more. Following up with these people (e.g. “I remember you guys saying you played basketball… want to put together an intramurals team?”) and taking a bit of initiative can pay off really well in terms of your student feeling like part of the campus community. After all, most other students out there are looking for belonging, too!
Simple Paths to Belonging…
- Attend a hall council meeting
- Say “yes” when someone asks you to lunch
- Play pick-up volleyball in the quad
- Go to the movies with others
- Do a community service project
- Pick apples with a group of students
- Head to a free campus concert or event
- Sign up for a retreat or leadership program
- Ask others to join you – they’re looking for belonging, too!