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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.95) Four Compartmentalizers
Connecting in College

Janice M. McCabe

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 4 focuses on the second network type: compartmentalizers. Compartmentalizers are students with two to four clusters of friends, where friends generally know each other within clusters, but not across them. The chapter opens by highlighting the experiences of two students—Mary and Julia. As Mary’s experience shows, students with compartmentalized networks attain social and academic success often through segmenting academic and social support such that they receive academic support from one cluster of friends and social support through another cluster. However, as Julia’s experience shows, managing these multiple friendship groups can pose time and identity pressures, resulting in lower academic outcomes. Black, Latino, and lower-class compartmentalizers typically found social support within a cluster of friends, helping them deal with race- or class-based marginality. Gender played a role as well, with several women students describing friend relationships as like “moms” who provide instrumental support in terms of reminders and emotional support in terms of good wishes before tests. The chapter ends with suggestions for students, parents, college administrators, policymakers and researchers to better support students with compartmentalized networks.

Keywords:   friendship, networks, race, gender, class, academic success, social support, college students

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