First-Year Students’ Loss Experiences and Institutional Belongingness in the Transition to College
Author(s): Miller, K., & Servaty-Seib, Heather L.
Citation: Miller, K., & Servaty-Seib, Heather L. (2016). First-Year Students’ Loss Experiences and Institutional Belongingness in the Transition to College. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 28(2), 53-72.
First-year students’ transition experiences are often considered to involve losses; however, few scholars have intentionally defined or offered measures to assess these losses. The aims of this study were to use the Perceived Impact of Life Events Scale (PILES) to identify the loss domains that traditional-age, first-year college students (N = 269) perceive in the transition to college and to examine how those losses relate to institutional belongingness. The findings suggest that students perceive existential, friendship, and romantic losses in the transition to college. Of these domains, the existential and friendship losses were negatively associated with students’ institutional belongingness. The findings provide guidance for stakeholders focused on enhancing institutional belongingness as perceptions of losses and gains are malleable and are, therefore, amenable to intervention. The loss factors that emerged from the PILES could also be used to assess the impact of other college-related transitions.