5 Reasons Why Joining a College Community Can Lead to Success

May 30, 2023

When students with similar interests or experiences come together to create a community and develop long-lasting relationships, they are better prepared for success in college and beyond. Belonging to a cohort, having the same classes, or being in the same club can help lay the groundwork for a support network to help fuel a successful college and post-college experience. 

Shelia Higgs Burkhalter, vice president for student affairs at Winthrop University, understands the importance of having a tight community in college. Shelia oversees a cohort and encourages the students to come together to discuss challenges, offer advice and mentorship, build relationships, exchange resources, and share experiences together to ultimately build a foundation of trust and a successful college experience. 

Shelia shared her top five reasons to join or create a strong community in college:

  1. Network and Leverage Relationships.
    College is a great time to expand your network and tap into their connections. Whether it’s for potential job opportunities, volunteer positions, or to develop new ideas, these networking opportunities can be important in pursuing or jumpstarting your career and gathering valuable insights.
  2. Gather Resources.
    Your community can help you identify areas where you need help and offer resources that you may not have considered. Regular group check-ins can also help ensure you don’t start falling behind. It can also help you consider your success from a holistic perspective including mental health, grades, finances, preparation for life after college, and more. Having regular meetups to check-in and have an outside perspective on your situation can be incredibly valuable and eye-opening to help identify areas of growth or areas where you need support.
  3. Basis for Lasting Friendships.
    Successful community groups or cohorts are developed based on similar experiences, ethics, goals, and more. A shared interest helps build a foundation for strong friendships for the remainder of your college years and beyond. This group shouldn’t be cookie-cutter copies of yourself, the more diverse, the better! But having a common interest or goal can help set the stage for meaningful and beneficial relationships that can last long after college.
  4. Ongoing Support and Guidance.
    Having a formal or informal mentor with experience or insight into your situation can be valuable in navigating your college experience. The friendly, ongoing support can help keep you on track to meet your goals while also providing peace of mind that someone is in your corner rooting for you and supporting you. They can also help you identify ways to get ahead. A strong support network is an important part of your overall success because they’ll be there to offer guidance or encouragement for what you’re going through.
  5. Opportunities to Learn and Grow.
    Every relationship is a give-and-take and cohorts and communities are no different. Having the opportunity to learn from your peers can open your eyes to new experiences or ways of approaching a problem that you may not have considered before. Also having space to share your insight into situations to help others can feel rewarding.

You don’t have to be part of a formal cohort to reap the immense benefits. Gathering a group of individuals with similar experiences is a great place to start. You can see if any other students on your campus also receive the Meeting Street Scholarship, are from your hometown, or have similar career goals. These all can serve as a strong baseline to support impactful and lasting relationships. With a support network to cheer you on, offer you guidance, and suggest resources, you will be better equipped with the tools you need to succeed in college and beyond. 

For more student resources and information about the Meeting Street Scholarship Fund, visit MeetingStreetScholarshipFund.org. For updates, news, and more, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.