Making College “Worth It” – Season 1, Episode 2

In a 2021 survey conducted by the Elon University Poll and the Center for Engaged Learning, 54.5% of recent college graduates indicated that they’d encountered meaningful relationships with faculty or staff multiple times, and 69.1% reported multiple meaningful relationships with other students. Unfortunately, 16.4% reported never developing those relationships with faculty or staff, and 9.8% never developed meaningful relationships with peers. How can students make connections in college?

Our panelists – Isis Artze-Vega (Valencia College), Oscar R. Miranda Tapia (North Carolina State University), and Peter Felten (Elon University) – share strategies from their new book (with Leo Lambert), Connections are Everything: A College Student’s Guide to Relationship-Rich Education. Read the book for free on Project Muse, thanks to a grant from the Gardner Institute. Explore teaching and faculty development resources related to the book on the Center’s website.

View a transcript of this episode.

Meet our Guests

Our guests are the authors (with Leo Lambert) of Connections are Everything: A College Student’s Guide to Relationship-Rich Education.

Headshot of Isis Artze-Vega

Isis Artze-Vega is the college provost and vice president for academic affairs at Valencia College. She is a coauthor of The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching.

Headshot of Oscar R. Miranda Tapia

Oscar R. Miranda Tapia is pursuing his doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University.

Headshot of Peter Felten

Peter Felten is the executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning, the assistant provost for teaching and learning, and a professor of history at Elon University.

Episode Credits

This episode is co-hosted by Jessie L. Moore, Director of Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning, and Sydni Brown, a senior at Elon University who is majoring in Communications Design and Strategic Communications. Making College “Worth It” is produced by Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning.

Episode art was created by Jennie Goforth, managing editor for the Center for Engaged Learning, and Nolan Schultheis, the Center’s undergraduate Podcast Producer.

Funky Percussions is by Denys Kyshchuk (@audiocoffeemusic) – Soft Beat is by ComaStudio.

Learn More about Research Featured in this Episode

Research Featured in the Featured Books

Review research details for Connections are Everything.

Review research details for Relationship-Rich Education.

Center Resources about Relationships

Two women (one older and one younger) look together at an open laptop. Text overlay reads, "Equalizing status within mentoring relationships fosters environments for collaboration, but the possibility for creating this dynamic involves concerted efforts from both mentors and mentees, as it involves developing mutual respect and mutual responsibility."

Equalizing Status in Mentoring Relationships Fosters Collaboration

Recently, I mentored three undergraduate research students who graduated and went on to pursue graduate degrees and professional work. Through our mentoring relationships, which deepened over several years and involved navigating numerous unexpected challenges throughout the pandemic, I strove to…

Two students sit on a bench talking. An academic building and more students are visible in the background. Text overlay reads, "Although much needed work and discussion has been centered around mentoring students of diverse backgrounds, a group of diverse students that is often overlooked are international students."

Perspectives on Mentoring International Students: Part 1 — Introduction

The transition from high school to university is often a challenging one that includes many adjustments. This transition can be especially challenging when an undergraduate or graduate student moves to another country and/or continent for their education. Studying in a…

A baby in a flowered dress walks, with a parent holding their hands. A woman is visible next to the child.

Learning through Mentoring: Lessons from the Earliest Phase of Life

Infants’ first attempts in learning to walk are characterized by enthusiastic, wholehearted, but unbalanced steps that frequently result in many falls. Learning this novel skill is influenced by the child’s developmental history, or prior experiences, such as being held in…

A mother polar bear stands with two cubs in the snow.

A Polar Bear Experience

Polar bears and their mothers have a unique relationship throughout their development. Research has shown that a polar bear cub stays with its mother as it develops, but it is left alone to fend for itself after two years (“When…

Center Resources about Relationship Accelerators

Capstone Experiences

Definition Capstone experiences aim to facilitate students’ sense-making of their growth and development across their major or general educational studies and have been a hallmark of undergraduate education in one form or another for at least as long as higher education has…

High Impact Practices and Historically Underrepresented Minority Students

For over a decade Kuh’s (2008) work on the critical importance of engaged learning has shaped the undergraduate college and university experience. Kuh dubbed these teaching and learning experiences High Impact Practices, and taking part in at least one of them at…

Immersive Learning

Definition Immersive learning is more than a single pedagogy or specific practice. It covers a wide range of approaches to teaching and learning, and isn’t specifically attached to a specific discipline, course of study, or eventual profession. It is, rather,…


Definition Two commonly cited definitions of internships are those from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS).  Since the term “internship” lacks a consistent definition across the…

Learning Communities

Definition Learning communities emphasize collaborative partnerships between students, faculty, and staff, and attempt to restructure the university curriculum to address structural barriers to educational excellence. In their 1990 publication Learning Communities: Creating Connections Among Students, Faculty, and Disciplines, Faith Gabelnick, Jean MacGregor, Roberta S….


Definition Service-learning was one of the ten experiences listed as a high-impact practice (HIP) when such practices were first identified by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) in 2007. Given the many benefits that service-learning experiences offer students…

Students as Partners

Definition Students as Partners in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, or simply Students as Partners (SaP), is a pedagogical approach that has been embraced recently by many higher education institutions primarily in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia….

Undergraduate Research

Definition The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) defines undergraduate research as: “An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” Similarly, Kinkead (2003) notes that Undergraduate Research (UR) can…

Work-Integrated Learning

Definition Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an approach to education that allows students to obtain work experiences related to what they are learning in a classroom setting (International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, n.d; Jackson 2016). Ferns, Campbell, and Zegwaard (2014) describe…