Incoming first-year students at Michigan State University who felt a connection with the university during orientation were more likely to fit in and want to stay enrolled at the university, particularly students from ethnic minority groups.
Those are the findings of a study published by the Journal of Vocational Behavior, which was based on surveys of 1,935 Michigan State students.
“We found that students can develop a sense of fitting in before they even walk into class, and that feeling is important down the line. It leads to the students feeling like their skills meet academic demands and also leads to them wanting to stick around,” Joshua Prasad, the study's lead author and a master’s student in the university's psychology department, said in a written statement. “For universities that are looking to foster a diverse student body, this is an avenue they can actually act on. They can use that summer before students first come to campus to help develop that sense of fitting in.”
Ethnic minority students were less likely to report feeling a connection to the university. But those who did had a "stronger link to feelings of fitting in and wanting to remain at the university after one semester," the study found.