The Social Networks of the Commuting College Student
Linda R. Culbert Fairleigh Dickinson University
Joanna L. Good Fairleigh Dickinson University
Juliana Rasic Lachenmeyer Fairleigh Dickinson University North Shore University Hospital Cornell University Medical College
This study deals with the relationship between the structure of social networks and their role in providing social support to students in their first and second years of college. Students entering college are unconnected with, and attempting to become integrated into, the academic community. It seems likely that the extent to which freshpersons develop on-campus social networks, as well as the characteristics of these social networks, will affect their integration into the academic community. Social integration into this community is seen as helping the student meet the demands of school life, such as achieving academic success, developing a commitment to the college or university, and dealing with stress.
Theoretical models to explore college students' social and academic integration and their persistence in college were first developed by Spady ( 1970, 1971). Based on Durkheim's model of suicide, Spady hypothesized that social integration resulting from the interaction of family background, academic potential, grade performance, intellectual development, and friendship support influences student attrition. Tinto ( 1975) expanded upon Spady's work and developed the notion that compensatory relations between social and academic integration account for student commitment and persistence in college.