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3 Types of College-Friendship Networks

Article: Here Are the 3 Types of College-Friendship Networks

In this article, Jesse Singal reflects on the works of Janice McCabe regarding college friendship networks. In McCabe’s analysis, she determined the three types of friendship networks: tight-knitter, compartmentalizer, and sampler.

In a tight-knitter network,  there is typically only one tight-knit community, similar to a ball of yarn, where most of the friends are friends with one another. McCabe noticed that this type of network provided a sense of home for the members, giving them a source of academic support and motivation. However, these friendships can distract and negatively affect them academically.

In a compartmentalizer network, there is typically two clusters of friendships, where there are relationships between the clusters, but rarely between the two clusters. The network can be depicted as a bow-tie, with two groups of somewhat isolated friend networks, bounded by the single person. This network provided a moderate level of social and academic support from different clusters.

In a sampler network, friends are from a variety of places, rarely with connections between them. The network can be depicted as a daisy, where the friends of the “seed” are spread out. McCabe noted that samplers typically “succeeded academically without relying on their friends”, as their friends did not affect them academically. However, many samplers reported feeling lonely, as they did not have a tight-knit community.

This article by Jesse Singal addresses the topic of clusters; it elaborates on the social/academic impacts of different network structures. We can find these trends here on campus, where most friendships fall into these three categories. Additionally, McCabe discovers that in the future, each person maintains the “same basic shape of social network they’d had back then”, which makes sense because tight-knit communities / clusters usually stay somewhat together because of the interwoven friendships in them.


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