Connecting in CollegeHow Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success

Connecting in CollegeHow Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success

Janice M. McCabe

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226409498

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

What types of friendship networks do students form? Who forms which type? What academic and social outcomes are attached to them? And how they impact students after college? These are some of the issues this book considers as it follows Alberto, Mary, Martin, and their peers over a five-year period from their undergraduate years at MU into life after college. By investigating the connections among students’ friends, this book identifies three types of friendship networks—tight-knitters, compartmentalizers, and samplers. Friendship networks positively and negatively impact students’ academic performance, social experiences, and life after college. And they do so differently across racial, gender, and class backgrounds. In brief, the benefits of friendship are not the same for all friends or for all students. Although friendships can drag down students’ academic success, friendships can also keep students in school, giving them a sense of belonging and enjoyment. This book challenges views of friendships as either helping or harming students by showing how and for whom friends help and hinder. Connecting rich descriptions of students’ experiences with detailed maps of their friendships over time provides a uniquely deep and nuanced lens on the lasting academic and social benefits of friends. This book advances and reorients both conceptualization and empirical investigation by showing how college friendships matter academically and socially, and how they matter differently across social categories. The book also provides suggestions for students, parents, faculty and administrators who seek to help students thrive academically and socially.