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Connecting in CollegeHow Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success$
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Janice M. McCabe

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226409498

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226409665.001.0001

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(p.66) Three Tight-Knitters
Connecting in College

Janice M. McCabe

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 focuses on one of the three friendship network types: tight- knitters.Tight- knitters are students with dense friendship networks where almost all of their friends know each other. Students with tight-knit networks typically have social support, but academic success varies according to the academic involvement of their friends. The chapter opens by highlighting the experiences of two students—Alberto and Keisha—to show the two main patterns among tight-knitters. As Alberto’s experiences show, some tight-knitters had friends who help academically in multiple ways—through providing instrumental help regarding academics, academic emotional support, and intellectual engagement. These networks pulled students up academically. In contrast, Keisha struggled academically, and her friends tended to distract her from academics. In other words, her tight-knit network pulled her down academically. Most tight-knitters were black or Latino. Most of them experienced race-based isolation on this predominantly-white campus and found tremendous social support from their tight-knit friendship networks. The chapter ends with suggestions for students, parents, college administrators, policymakers and researchers to better support students with tight-knit networks.

Keywords:   friendships, network, social support, race, isolation, academic success, college students

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