Friendships Made in College Matter for Academic and Social Success

A new book authored by Janice M. McCabe explores how the friends that are made in college can influence Academic and Social Success. Surveying a range of different kinds of college friendships, Connecting in College details the fascinatingly complex ways students’ social and academic lives intertwine and how students attempt to balance the two in their pursuit of straight As, good times, or both.

As McCabe and the students she talks to show, the friendships we forge in college are deeply meaningful, more meaningful than we often give them credit for. They can also vary widely. Some students have only one tight-knit group, others move between several, and still others seem to meet someone new every day. Some students separate their social and academic lives, while others rely on friendships to help them do better in their coursework. McCabe explores how these dynamics lead to different outcomes and how they both influence and are influenced by larger factors such as social and racial inequality. She then looks toward the future and how college friendships affect early adulthood, ultimately drawing her findings into a set of concrete solutions to improve student experiences and better guarantee success in college and beyond.

You should encourage your students to have a balanced social life in College and encourage them to meet and make friends. This book shows doing so can enhance their college experience. Many introverted students may not feel comfortable when they first get to college but joining clubs and engaging in extracurricular activities are ways that can help them make new friends and have positive experiences outside their academic endeavors.

The book is available from The University of Chicago Press Books. Here are a few endorsements from University personnel that have read the book:

Claudia Buchmann, Ohio State University
Connecting in College provides a thoughtful and engaging treatment of college students’ friendships that is long overdue. Students, parents, and anyone concerned with maximizing student success will learn much about how friendship networks matter for students’ lives in college and beyond.”
Mario Small, Harvard University
“McCabe has written an interesting and important book on the relationship between networks and academic success. An in-depth look at college students’ interpersonal networks, Connecting in College shows that a student’s success may depend less on the number of supportive friends than on the structure of the student’s network—that is, on the nature of connections among the friends themselves. Painting a rich and thoughtful picture of how students manage the college experience, the book demonstrates clearly the importance of careful, theoretically informed, qualitative research for the study of networks and their consequences.”
Camille Z. Charles, University of Pennsylvania
“We’ve known for quite some time that peer relationships—friendships—are an important aspect of the collegiate experience. Until now, though, we’ve known relatively little about how college students make friends or what sorts of friendship networks are most common. This study reveals these important details for the first time, identifying three key types of friendship networks—close-knitters, compartmentalizers, and samplers—and detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each for the academic and social lives of students. In addition to these nuts and bolts, important attention is paid to the ways that the structure of students’ friendship networks varies by race and class, and the degree to which collegiate friendships and network styles persist postgraduation. Connecting in College is a thoughtful and engaging study; an important contribution to the higher education, social networks, and mobility literatures, and a must-read for anyone interested in the undergraduate experience.”
The books cost is $30 and can be ordered here: