THE SOCIAL NETWORKS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS
The next two papers examine the social networks of young people in the early part of their college years. As the literature reviews in the two papers suggest, it has been hypothesized that the student's college social networks play an important role in supporting the student's adjustment to both the social and the academic demands of college life. However, this hypothesis has not been directly tested. The two papers presented here focus particularly on the relation between the size of the network of close college friends soon after entering college, and academic success shortly thereafter as measured by course grades, transfer to other colleges, and dropping out altogether. Gender and ethnic friendship patterns, as well as stressors such as illness, time spent on an outside job, and other variables that potentially affect social networks and academic achievement are also examined.
In order to test the generality of any relationships identified, the same instruments and procedures were employed at two rather different colleges. The first setting is a public urban college where the student body is ethnically and nationally diverse and, for the most part, comes from financially impoverished homes. The second paper studies ethnically homogeneous, middleclass students in a suburban commuter college. Comparison of the two student bodies shows that many social network findings are consistent across the two communities. Both studies found that students quickly selected as close friends other students who were the same as or similar to themselves in terms of gender and, in the first study, ethnic group. Nevertheless, an encouraging finding of the first study was that as little as 4 months of college