Navigating the New Academic Year with Community

August 23, 2021

Louis Tay

Another new school year is here!

It can feel exciting and invigorating for those new to Purdue, and even those who are now returning in person. Yet, you may also be experiencing anxiety and stress. These feelings are understandable given the prospect of a new environment and new academic and social challenges. And, of course, on top of all of this, we have the “little” problem of the pandemic.

Personally, navigating new situations and new people is not my favorite thing. However, I have learned over time that a key to centering yourself is by finding community. After all, psychological research shows that social connections are foundational to our well-being – we are wired to connect and need to belong. Moreover, these social relationships can provide the informational, material, and emotional resources we need to help buffer and overcome stress.

On campus, there are many others who are in the very same situation as you are. And others who share your values, interests, and passions that you might become life-long friends with.

What are some ways you can find a community of belonging?

  • Join a Purdue student organization or club: Find an organization with others that have similar interests. There are over 1,000 to choose from!

  • Participate in social activities: Make time to socialize, especially in the first few weeks of arriving. There is a window of opportunity where most people are interested in similarly socializing before the semester gets fully underway and such opportunities decline.

  • Get to know your coursemates: Actively participating in class and getting to know other students in the course can be really helpful. Whether online or offline, forming study groups or just pinging one another on assignments and deadlines can help provide a sense of belonging.

Importantly, it is not merely participating in social activities that will forge friendships. It is in taking the additional time to listen, communicate, and share with each other that we grow in our relationships. As we navigate the new academic year, I hope all of us will not only find – but create – deep connections with others around us.

Be well,


Dr. Louis Tay

Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science.  Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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