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Encouraging Persistence: the Benefits of the Uni-Community

students in the library

22 November 2021


This year’s incoming students had a very different experience from that of students past who applied, enrolled, and arrived on your campus. You know well the challenges that they faced and the commitment and resilience that they portrayed to achieve this remarkable feat.

The question now is, how can you support their persistence? And how can you encourage them to receive the maximum value from their unique higher education journey?

Focusing on their studies is key. However, connecting with others and being part of a community is also essential. It might even be one of the main reasons that they chose to attend your college or university and why they will want to stay.

On one hand, connecting to others is more difficult than ever. Many schools are offering online or hybrid courses, so there are fewer chances to meet face-to-face. On-campus activities have been minimized or relegated, reducing the number of people to connect with in real life.

On the other hand, there are still a lot of viable ways for your students to connect with others. This can be accomplished by encouraging a focus on experience-building and networking.

In my recently published book, “Backpack to Briefcase, A Student’s Guide to a Meaningful Career Journey,” I provide readers with tips on how to build their experience and their network in order to build community.

Build experience, build community

Students can plug into their school and local community by participating in a variety of opportunities.


If they don’t have a lot of paid experience, then spending their time volunteering can help them to gain some and connect with other like-minded individuals. Direct them to campus opportunities for volunteers to put on virtual or live events.

Co-op work terms and apprenticeships

There are other opportunities that will help them build experience and connect to the local

community. Remind them of the advantages that they have as a student. Local companies and organizations are often open to meeting and hiring students for co-op work terms or apprenticeships. This allows them to build connections in the local community even before they graduate.

Applied projects

Another innovative way to build connections in the local community is to work on an applied group project. More and more instructors are adding learning opportunities into their courses by inserting applied projects that encourage students to approach a real company. 

Working on a school project with a real organization allows them to acquire in-depth knowledge of their sector, and to make valuable connections in the business community.

Build a network, build community

When students focus on building their network, they naturally strengthen their ties to communities on-campus and off-campus. Here are some ways for students to connect:

Student clubs

Encourage them to join a student club as a member or in a leadership role. Being in a club can lead to life-long friendships! Brainstorming to come up with fundraising or event ideas develops team-building skills and grants them the opportunity to connect with others that care about what they care about.

Instructors, alumni, prospective students

There are ways to build cross-community connections by encouraging students to interact with their instructors and the school alumni network. Suggest that they stay after class to engage with their instructors on a deeper level so that professors and teaching assistants know who they are. Students can also reach out to your school’s alumni network on LinkedIn or through the Alumni Relations Office to expand their links to the university community.

Consider connecting them with prospective students! If your university has the Unibuddy platform, they can look into becoming an ambassador. Prospective students want to find out about your school from those who are already studying there. Current students can build connections to interested students before they even arrive!

Industry associations

Every industry that a student is interested in working in has an association. Association events, whether virtual or in-person, serve as ways to network, volunteer, and build community connections.

In summary, I have taught more than 4,000 students and I have seen that the most successful of them focus on their studies and dedicate time to being part of a community. Not only that, but they can enjoy connecting to their school and their local community through building their experience and building their network.

Being part of a community strengthens your students’ skill sets as they persist with their studies. This will ultimately lead to a rewarding higher education journey. And in turn, it’s also your secret to retaining them along the way.


Written by Stephanie Koonar, Co-Founder of PeerSpectives Consulting

Edited by Kara Golembeski, Content Marketing Manager, Editorial, Unibuddy



Biography: Stephanie Koonar is a marketing professional, academic, career coach, and workshop facilitator. A Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and Co-Founder of PeerSpectives Consulting, she enjoys coaching purpose-driven individuals and teams to be their best.  Stephanie and her PeerSpectives Consulting Co-Founder Louann McCurdy are available to partner with Employers and Educators to collaborate on program development, guest speak, and facilitate workshops.

Contact Stephanie at

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