Abstract

Abstract:

Sense of belonging has widespread effects on students’ lives in higher education, particularly on students of color, but less is known if sense of belonging continues to predict important behaviors after graduation. Our study examined if sense of belonging to one’s undergraduate alma mater predicts alumni engagement such as donation and mentoring current students. Participants (100 White alumni and 293 alumni of color) were college graduates recruited through the Prolific online platform. They completed a series of survey questions regarding their undergraduate experience and engagement with their alma mater after graduation. Using step-wise regression models, we found that sense of belonging positively predicted both interests in engagement and self-reported past engagement with their alma mater. This relationship held even when controlling for important demographic factors (e.g., gender, age, race, income) as well as satisfaction with their undergraduate experience. Furthermore, the effect of belonging on alumni engagement was moderated by racial identity such that alumni of color who felt greater belonging were more engaged with their alma mater. In contrast, sense of belonging was not a significant predictor of engagement for White alumni. These findings highlight the importance of understanding and cultivating a sense of belonging to encourage alumni engagement, particularly among students and alumni of color.

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