The prior literature on relationships and the transition to college largely documents either the relationships college students at four-year institutions have on-campus that provide information or relationships they have off-campus that provide support. Using a unique dataset of interviews with 96 first-year community college students, this paper compares the roles of on- and off-campus relationships to understand whether both provide information and support and how the information and support they provide varies.
The authors find that because on-campus relationships are predominately distant, they provide general and impersonal information about policies and procedures and very little support. Off-campus relationships, which are predominately close, provide personal insight and personalized information in addition to support and motivation. The findings demonstrate that community college students’ on- and off-campus relationships are complementary in providing insight into policies and procedures at the college, a sense of belonging on campus, and personal and personalized advice and support for their college goals.
This paper appears in Research in Higher Education.