A one-hour exercise early in college improves career outcomes for black students years later
A brief social-belonging intervention in college improves adult outcomes for black Americans
A one-hour exercise designed to increase feelings of social belonging administered during the first year of college appears to significantly improve the lives and careers of black students up to eleven years later, psychologists report. The authors say their findings suggest that targeted and timely psychological intervention can be an important tool to interrupt generational sociocultural disadvantages. Their paper follows up on a 2011 study published in Science, which hypothesized that minority students or first-generation college students arrive at college feeling as if they don’t belong, and may interpret common social and academic setbacks as confirmation of this feeling. Black students who completed a short exercise, which presented such setbacks as common and temporary, later reported higher GPAs, better mental health and wellbeing, and even fewer doctor visits. Now, Shannon Brady and colleagues reconnected with the students from the original trial and found that those who had completed the exercise continue to report greater career satisfaction, physical health, community involvement, and psychological wellbeing. Students who completed the exercise were more likely to find good mentors, who in turn were important factors in the students’ success. The authors write that the social belonging intervention will likely only work in environments where care and resources are available to the students, as opposed to schools that are actively hostile to the students or those without sufficient resources. Their findings indicate that improving students’ feelings of belonging can be an important strategy to reduce inequality in school and in the workplace.
Shannon T. Brady