Teachers College, Columbia University

How Relationships Support and Inform the Transition to Community College

By Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana & Rachel Hare Bork
How Relationships Support and Inform the Transition to Community College

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.

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