UPDATES Sign up to receive periodic updates from the Student Experience Research Network.
Social isolation, anxiety, and depression have significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic among college students. We examine a key protective factor—students’ sense of belonging with their college—to understand (1) how belongingness varies overall and for key sociodemographic groups (first-generation, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students, first-year students) amidst COVID-19 and (2) if feelings of belonging buffer students from adverse mental health in college. Despite reporting high levels of belonging pre- and post-COVID, consistent with past research, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority/first-generation students reported relatively lower sense of belonging compared to peers. Feelings of belonging buffered depressive symptoms and to a lesser extent anxiety amidst COVID among all students.