Book cover for Connections Are Everything: A College Student's Guide to Relationship-Rich Education by Peter Felten, Leo M. Lambert, Isis Artze-Vega, and Oscar R. Miranda Tapia. An illustration of a female student in graduation cap and gown is surrounded by illustrations of various people (other students, professors, and many other people) -- all these people are connected by lines, forming a network.
Buy in Print

ISBN: 9781421443126

Johns Hopkins University Press, July 2023

Read for free on Project Muse

This chapter emphasizes that students are the key actor in forming educational relationships and creating a meaningful college experience. This is not all on the student, of course. Colleges and universities have many resources to support and challenge students. Still, what students do is essential to their experience in college.

This chapter helps students recognize the many strengths they bring to college that will help them form meaningful relationships and reach them goals.

Change can be exciting and uncomfortable, but if students choose to act and to raise their voice, they will find that they have what it takes to thrive.

Ask Yourself...

  1. Looking back on your life, what are the things you’ve worked toward and achieved? What did you do (for example, practice every day or ask questions of someone who knows more than you) and what did you believe (for example, “I can do this” and “I won’t give up”) that made it possible for you to achieve those things? How can you apply those same practices and beliefs to your college experience?
  2. If we asked the people who know you best (for instance, your closest friends, family, spouse, kids, or colleagues) to describe your strengths, what would they tell us?
  3. Take a moment to reflect on where you want to be after college. What do you imagine yourself doing? With whom may you want to connect or continue being connected with along this journey?

Try This!

  1. Take a few minutes to list your strengths in each of the six categories below, and then think about how your different strengths could help you succeed and thrive in college:
    • social (for example, ability to relate to others, ability to maintain relationships for a long time)
    • academic (ability in writing, math, computing, or another subject area)
    • athletic (skill at a team or individual sport)
    • artistic (skill in drawing, singing, music, or other creative pursuits)
    • mechanical (ability to build, assemble, or construct)
    • cultural/spiritual (knowledge and practices)
  2. Make a list of the individuals who are already part of your life, and think about whether any these people could support you in additional ways—and how you can express your gratitude for what they’ve done for you already:
    • Who do you turn to when you need emotional support?
    • Do you have a person in your life that you talk to about values that ground you?
    • Who in your network of relationships shares an important identity with you?
  3. Look through your social network connections to find one or more individuals who attend your college (or who know someone who does). Consider sending a private message to ask someone in your network a question or to see if they would be open to meeting with you to talk about your shared interests.