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.
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ISBN: 9781421443126

Johns Hopkins University Press, July 2023

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Of all the relationships student build in college, the ones they develop with peers— with other students— are likely to be the most significant.

Peer relationships in college tend to offer a mixture of supports: well-being and emotional support (including having fun!), academic support (learning), and instrumental support (practical, day-to-day living).

This chapter explores those three categories of support peers can provide to students, and also offers suggestions for navigating negative peer interactions.

Ask Yourself...

  1. Name a peer you admire. What are the qualities of this person that you respect?
  2. Do you have a friendship that supports you in a number of overlapping ways (academically, emotionally, practically)? How could you support your friends in overlapping ways?
  3. What are three simple ways you can give greater attention to peer relationships? (Examples: put down your phone, use social media more strategically, invite a classmate for coffee after class.)
  4. How could you extend relationships with peers in the classroom outside of class? (Examples: form study groups, set up a class group text.)
  5. Have you ever had to reassess or cut off a friendship because it was not healthy? What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
  6. How do you use social media to enhance meaningful peer relationships? In what ways might your social media use be more healthy?
  7. Are your relationships with peers from high school—or other aspects of your life outside of college—nourishing or limiting?

Try This!

  1. If you are doing most of your studying alone, try the benefits of a study group, where peers review material and teach each other. These scheduled meetings also help ensure you are devoting your time to academics.
  2. Do you have a peer who supports you in more than one dimension of your life (well-being and emotional support, academic support, practical support)? Express gratitude to that person for being such an important friend.
  3. Find a student who seems lonely or who appears to be ignored, and introduce yourself.