The feeling of being included matters... a lot. Whether it’s starting a new school, a new class, a new job, etc. the tone and vibe of the environment you’re in can drastically shape your ability to be creative and contribute. This is even more pronounced for people from diverse backgrounds. It is vital for individuals to feel welcome instead of isolated to be more productive. Feeling included can also increase commitment, success, health, and well-being.
Finding support and resources, especially in a new environment may seem like a difficult and overwhelming task but there are some key options out there.
The School’s Website
The place where you first need to go is your institution’s website. When on your school’s website look for keywords like resources, services, or support and you’re likely to find school-specific help. Still not sure? Ask your advisor. They’re often in touch with a multitude of different departments on campus and can likely point in you in the correct direction.
Clubs & Student Organizations
We’ve all heard the, “Join a club!” phrase more than once. Joining a club is one of the best ways to meet others with whom you will relate to and learn from. Student-led clubs and organizations and events are the best ways to feel included and supported.
Organizations with Similar Interests
There are a lot of clubs and groups that can help you find peers with similar interests as you. Groups such as student government, Greek life, sports, environmental advocacy, etc. all provide you with an opportunity to contribute and meet new individuals with passions similar to your own.
Organizations with Similar Backgrounds/Experiences
In addition to groups with similar interests, there are also a lot of groups out there that offer students support from similar backgrounds and experiences. While anyone, of course, can (and should!) join, there are a lot of groups dedicated to helping students feel respected and included, such as women's clubs, a PRIDE club, the National Black Student Union (NBSU), etc. Contact your school’s office if you’d like to create a support platform on your own!
Organizations Focused on Professional Development
Nearly everyone in college is there in order to improve their future. It’s a common goal pretty much all students share. If this is something you’re passionate about or interested in, there are a large number of organizations dedicated to future skills and networking. A few options include the Toastmasters club, pre-med student organizations, campus newspapers, etc. It’s a great and easy way to get involved and find support.
Feeling supported is critical. It leads to higher levels of well-being, better coping skills, and longer and healthier experience. Social support can reduce depression and anxiety by having people who understand and can be depended upon during tough times. Make sure you have the resources you need to feel comfortable and happy in any new environment you find yourself in.
This American medium is a good option that will provide support. In 2013, the program was named “GLAAD” as an acronym for “Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” and is now the primary name even though they advocate for all LGBTQ individuals.
Anyone can access this resource no matter where they go. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States.
The IDA is the world’s largest alliance of persons with disabilities.
This organization has the objective of securing rights for ethnic, national, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples around the world.
The largest organization of feminist activists in the United States.