Chapter 2 examines students’ discussions of how their friends are involved in their academic lives. Nearly all respondents engaged in “testimonies of balance,” describing themselves as balancing academic and social life, while also engaging in “cautionary tale testimonies of imbalance,” where they describe others who fail. The chapter also identifies ways that students separated friends from academics as a way to deal with the potential distraction of friends and ways that their friends were involved academically. The strategies that students used to separate friends and academics are: dividing their lives into “academic time” and “social time”; using time with friends as a break from academics; and using time with friends as a reward for academics. The strategies students used to integrate friends into their academic lives are: instrumental assistance, like studying together and editing papers; emotional support; intellectual discussions; and competition. Contrary to conventional wisdom, students are quite savvy in recognizing that friends can distract them and in strategically using friends to help them improve their academics.
Keywords: friends, college students, academics, social life, emotional support, intellectual discussions, competition, studying