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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.
Mother Teresa

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 JMU

  • Student Activities and Involvement provides opportunities for students to develop an ongoing relationship with the campus and community through programs, activities and support as they become educated and enlightened citizens who lead meaningful and productive lives.

  • Be sure to check out the Virtual Resources available to all students, particularly those who are not physically present on campus. 

  • Community-Service Learning prepares students to create more just, equitable, and sustainable communities through facilitating direct community engagement, enhancing capacity of community organizations and advocating for positive change.

  • The Center for Multicultural Student Services provides educational and celebratory programs and services that support an inclusive campus community in which members value diversity within themselves and others.

  • Student Leadership and Involvement serves as JMU's central resource center for student leadership development and engagement opportunity. 

  • Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression (SOGIE) works toward promoting JMU's commitment to diversity through education, support, advocacy and the fostering of equity for all students, inclusive of all sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

  • There are countless other clubs and organizations that can help you connect with others at JMU!

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