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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This chapter shows how certain experiences (sometimes called High-Impact Practices, or HIPs) can be particularly significant, even transformational, for students in college. These include internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, first- year seminars, and learning communities. We call these experiences “relationship accelerators”  because that’s what they do: they supercharge the educational interactions students have with peers, professors, staff, and community members.

Research demonstrates the many benefits of these practices for students, including greater engagement, deeper learning, and increased likelihood of graduating.  These experiences are relationship accelerators in part because they immerse students in circumstances that offer both challenge and support.

Ask Yourself...

  1. Which relationship accelerators already exist at your college? Are there any you are interested in getting involved with?
  2. If you are already participating in a relationship accelerator, how is it going? Do you feel like you are connecting with faculty, staff, or peers more deeply? If so, what are you learning that you can apply to other aspects of your education and life? If not, is there anything you can do to strengthen these relationships?

Try This!

  1. Search your college website to find out which relationship accelerators and high-impact practices are available to you. Use the list shown earlier in this chapter to search for relationship accelerators individually. Choose one to learn more about, and email the person who oversees the program. If it’s not listed online, ask your advisor or one of your professors where you can learn more.
  2. Visit the career center at your college, and ask how you can find and apply to internships, jobs, or graduate or professional school.
  3. Email a professor to ask about their research and to see if they ever involve undergraduates in their research projects. You might contact a professor who teaches one of your favorite courses. Or you could search a department’s web page to find a professor whose work interests you (as Sam Owusu did), or ask your friends if they know a professor who might be a valuable contact.