How to Help Students Feel Like They Belong At Your School

What university to attend is one of the biggest choices that higher education students will make. When college students feel a sense of belonging on their campus, they experience significant positive effects socially, academically, and in their future careers. This sense of belonging in a university helps students while they are in class, and throughout their future. It may even help them to encourage future generations to attend your university.

Where Universities Must Focus Their Efforts

There are three major areas that students need to feel like they belong: socially, academically, and institutionally. According to a panel of experts on student engagement, these three areas are where all universities must focus.  

1. Social Dimension of Belonging

The social aspect involves creating a community where students feel missed when absent. This includes having friends to connect with, university-sponsored teams or clubs, and providing the areas in which students can meet socially. 

2. Academic Dimension of Belonging

To nurture academic belonging, institutions must ensure students have the tools for academic success. This includes supportive relationships with faculty, a comfortable learning environment, and the confidence to engage in class. Keep in mind that student needs today look much different than they have in the past and a university must help students by providing the tools they need to learn. 

3. Institutional Dimension of Belonging

In the institutional dimension, students should feel like the campus belongs to them. This involves pride in the school, its services, staff, and facilities, as well as the ability to access campus benefits.

How To Increase Belonging At Your School

Implementing practices that help to encourage your students to feel that sense of belonging can be challenging. First students need to have their basic needs met. This includes food, housing, and financial support. When those needs are met students must be invited to participate in the community. Everything from events to social spaces can help to invite students to participate in activities that increase feelings of belonging. Here are three ways schools can help students. 

Design Social Spaces

Students must be given spaces that encourage them to collaborate, interact, and just have fun together. University-sponsored events like orientation must offer time for these spontaneous interactions to happen. 

When we design the furnishing for spaces like the Dillard University Student Union we keep this in mind. Flexible seating that offers integrated power, like the Haworth Cabana Lounge, above, allows students to gather and stay a while without losing power on their electronic devices.

Provide For Flexible Classrooms

Academically your institution must provide great teachers and tutors, and encourage respectful learning environments. On top of the human element of education, you can also provide the materials needed to support learning in and out of the classroom. This includes providing materials that can move and change with your student’s needs, like the Kimball Xsede Media Cart, pictured above. 

Engage Your Students in Decision-Making

Universities need to engage students in decision-making, both actively and passively. Active involvement includes inviting students to participate in giving feedback on improvements at the university. This feedback then needs to be utilized for students to feel that their voices are heard. Passive feedback includes the university observing how students use the spaces available on campus. Using this information can help you to provide more of the spaces or furnishings that get the most use while retiring or reorganizing the spaces that are less frequented by students. 

We’re proud to be part of the Louisiana State Contract number 4400019558 which allows us to provide some of the best in furnishing to schools in our state. To learn more about the latest products for schools please get in touch with Marie Richoux and set up a meeting. Send an email to to schedule.

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