3 Ways AI Can Help Foster a Sense of Belonging on Campus

Success in higher education can come down to a variety of factors: acing exams, getting a great internship, and using support services effectively. But one factor that colleges and universities often forget about in the student success equation is sense of belonging. And with the rise of AI, colleges have new tools available to help students feel like they belong.

What is sense of belonging?

Sense of belonging is the feeling of being accepted and respected in a domain, place or space.  In higher education, sense of belonging refers to how well students feel that they belong at the institution they are learning in.  

Belonging isn’t trivial. Research has shown time and time again that when students feel like they belong, they’re more engaged, more motivated, and ultimately more successful in their academic endeavors. And students can experience negative outcomes if they feel like they don’t belong.  

How can colleges use AI to create a sense of belonging?

Higher education has largely accepted that a sense of belonging is an important part of the student experience. But actually fostering a sense of belonging on campus is the challenge. Thankfully, artificial intelligence is another tool in colleges’ toolbox that can create a culture of belonging and help students succeed.

Here are three ways institutions can use AI to foster a sense of belonging:  

Understand who students are, not who we think they are

AI can facilitate belonging by providing colleges with insights on who students really are, not who colleges think they are.  

Presently, most institutional interactions with students are based on risk factors informed by demographic data. While this provides valuable information about a student’s context, it does not dig deep enough into who a student truly is as a person. Leveraging behavioral data with AI can give colleges a much more complete understanding of who a student is, not who the college thinks they are.  

AI can leverage data from an institution’s LMS, CRM, SIS and other data sources to develop a profile of how a student thinks. From there, universities can personalize interactions with students through communication platforms, resource recommendations, and more.  

That’s what Discourse Analytics’ Digital Counselor does. Discourse Analytics uses institutional data to create a mindset profile of each student without using demographics. This allows institutions to dig deeper into who a student is and provide the personalized engagement that can help a student feel like they belong.   

AI can help create a culture of belonging by empowering institutions to understand who students are, not who we think they are.  

Provide just-in-time, personalized support

AI can also help foster a sense of belonging by scaling universities’ ability to provide just-in-time, personalized support. One of the biggest challenges in higher education is ensuring that every student feels seen and heard.   

With AI-powered platforms, institutions can analyze vast amounts of data to tailor support services to each student’s unique needs. Whether it’s recommending relevant resources, providing personalized feedback, or connecting students with mentors who share their interests, AI makes it possible to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all. 

Imagine a first-generation student who wants to strengthen their writing, but doesn’t know where to get help. They may feel like everyone in their class knows what they are doing and start to feel like they are not made for college writing. This first-gen student may struggle to find a resource to help them meet their full potential simply because they don’t know what their college provides. AI tools like chatbots can help students get connected to resources they don’t know about quickly.  

DA takes resource recommendation a step further by personalizing messages to student mindsets. If a student shows signs of struggling in a class, the Digital Counselor can recommend resources to help in a way that speaks to the student. A Go-getter student may just need to know where to find help, while a Support Oriented student may want the reassurance that a university resource will provide someone who can work alongside them on their path to success.  

Hyper-personalization based on student mindsets can elevate a university’s ability to provide just-in time resources and foster a sense of belonging.  

AI can adapt to student needs

No two students learn alike, which is why one-size-fits-all approaches to education often fall short. This applies to institutional communication strategies, too.  

Often institutions will send mass messages to all students in hopes of helping them connect to resources. But not all students need the same resource, and not all students will receive that message in the same way. Colleges have leveraged data to send more personalized messages to students, but this still falls short.  

AI can help by analyzing students’ behaviors and preferences and deliver personalized messages. That way students don’t receive one-size-fits-all messages, and instead get one-size-fits-me messages. Adapting to student needs will help students feel personally attended to and gain a stronger sense of belonging.  


AI can be a powerful ally in creating a culture of belonging and unlocking the full potential of every student. By leveraging AI tools to understand who students truly are, provide personalized support, and adapt to student needs, institutions can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment where every student feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive.   

Connect with our team to learn how you can foster a sense of belonging using the Digital Counselor.  

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