Student friendships at college should not be underestimated, as they can either help or hinder students academically and socially, according to a Dartmouth study “Friends with Academic Benefits,” published in the current issue of Contexts. The article by Janice McCabe, associate professor of sociology at Dartmouth, serves as a precursor to her upcoming book, “Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academics and Social Success”..Previous studies on the importance of peers have examined the broader role that peers play in student life, often focusing on their social influence, whereas, this study examines: individual friendships at college, how students benefit academically and socially from such networks, and how such networks reflect a student’s race and class. The research analyzes and visually maps the friendship networks of 67 students at a Midwestern university that is predominantly white, by looking at the role that friendship groups play in a student’s life and the density of ties that he/she shares with friends. McCabe finds that student friendships can be classified into three types of networks: tight-knitters, samplers and compartmentalizers.
Read also: Connecting in College