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Open Access Publications from the University of California

DO I BELONG HERE? Exploring Immigrant College Student Responses on the SERU Survey Sense of Belonging/Satisfaction Factor

  • Author(s): Michael J. Stebleton, Ronald L. Huesman, Jr., Aliya Kuzhabekova
  • et al.
Abstract

The immigrant college student population will likely continue to increase. This exploratory study addresses the questions: To what extent does sense of belonging/satisfaction of recent immigrant college students differ from non-immigrant college students? Do perceived self-ratings of belonging vary by immigrant generations? This research draws on a new extensive data source, the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey. Survey data from the 2009 SERU is based on the responses from 55,433 undergraduate students from six-large research institutions from across the United States. Findings suggest that immigrant students’ perception of their sense of belonging and satisfaction is significantly lower than their non-immigrant peers’ perceptions. Immigrant college students -- whether they were a recent immigrant that arrived in the country as a child, or arrived later as a teenager or young adult, or are the children of parents born outside the U.S. ( 2nd generation) -- consistently reported lower levels of belonging/satisfaction as compared to their 3rd or 4th generation (i.e., nonimmigrant) peers. Responses within the immigrant generation groups were similar. The following implications were highlighted: effective practice and application strategies for student affairs practitioners and faculty members who work directly with immigrant college students; policy development suggestions for both academic and student affairs administrators; future research inquiries for scholars who are interested in this fast growing population of college students.

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