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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 Montclair State

  • Office of Student Belonging promotes cohort-based experiences that promote a strong connection and sense of belonging to the university.

  • Volunteer Center provides resources to help students carry out community service.

  • Center for Community Engagement offers opportunities for students to engage their community, both on and off campus.

  • Residence Life assists in finding campus housing and offers opportunities to connect with other residents at MSU.

  • Commuter Life strives to create a strong community amongst the Commuter Students at Montclair State University by providing fun, social and educational events and a mentorship for first-year students to help you get the most out of your college career! Look to us for a wealth of resources relative to parking, commuter life, transit info and more.

  • Center for Student Involvement houses the volunteer center, commuter life, greek life, and civic & voter engagement.

  • Student Government Association aims to enrich your college experience by giving students opportunities to connect with others, explore new interests and lead their own clubs.

  • Harry A. Sprague Library offers an Ask A Librarian service to help with finding sources and doing research (drop-in at the reference desk, chat live online, email, phone, text, Zoom/in-person appointments); study spaces; workshops (how to use the library, how to conduct research, how to use Google Scholar); and assistive technology. In addition, use the library website to find sources for your assignments and coursework (ebooks, print books, articles, streaming videos, and more).

Online Resources

  • “Getting involved” doesn’t always have to include things on campus. Try to explore volunteer opportunities in and around your community.

  • Engage is an involvement platform that connects students to organizations and departments.

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