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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Developing a “relationship constellation” is important because instead of trying to find one person or a small group of  people to support a student’s multiple interests and needs, each student can cultivate a whole web of relationships to enrich their life in—and after—college.

Developing this constellation is one of the most significant parts of your college experience, particularly if you create it intentionally over time. This chapter illustrates how several students built their constellations and guides students through a process of building their own network of relationships during their college years.

Ask Yourself...

  1. How would you describe your current constellation or web of relationships?
  2. What do you want your constellation to become?
  3. Comparing your current constellation to the one you want to have, what’s missing? What’s one thing you could do now to help develop the constellation you’d like to have?

Try This!

Danielle Lake, director of Design Thinking at Elon University, created an exercise to help students reflect on a series of questions about four domains of relationships in college: academic/intellectual, emotional/belonging/spiritual/well-being, practical, and becoming an engaged citizen. You will find the full exercise on the book’s website ( For now, take a few minutes to reflect on the people in your life who are (or who could become) part of your constellation in each of these areas. These questions will help you identify them:


  1. Which faculty member, peer, or staff member has made you excited about learning, challenged you, and actively engaged you in the learning process?
  2. Which faculty member, peer, or staff member has left you feeling inspired, and for what reason?
  3. Has a faculty member or supervisor commented on something that you are good at or on work that you have done that shows good potential?
  4. Which faculty members do you feel drawn to talk to outside of class?


  1. Which peers on campus do you most admire and have qualities you want to emulate? How would you describe them (friend, peer mentor, etc.)?
  2. Are there staff members on campus that have been champions of your success?
  3. Who do you turn to when you need emotional support?
  4. Do you have a person in your life that you talk to about values that ground you?
  5. Who in your constellation of relationships shares an important identity with you?


  1. Which people on campus (or elsewhere) have helped you find direction in college?
  2. Is there a key individual who has helped you to feel at home on campus and extended a special sense of welcome?
  3. If you work on or off campus, is there an individual in your work environment that you consider a mentor, teacher, or confidant?
  4. Which peers have helped you develop knowledge and confidence about negotiating the college experience, including academics, clubs and organizations, and social life?

Becoming an Engaged Citizen

  1. Who do you talk to about how you can make a difference in your community?
  2. Who is a role model for you in terms of being a leader in your community?
  3. Who helps you see big issues from a global perspective?
  4. Who understands your talents and interests and can help you think about what you want to do with your life after college?
  5. Who might be best positioned to help you explore a specific career, perhaps through an internship or field experience?