Social Networks Can Support Academic Success
- the family's socioeconomic status;
- the time spent on independent learning and preparation for classes;
- the time spent working on a job or practicing a hobby; and
- the university or school environment.
However, recent empirical studies indicate that the role of the social environment may be underestimated, as classmates can greatly influence one another's behaviour and academic success.
Yet the value of many such studies is limited due to serious design flaws – such as viewing a random group of classmates as one's social network or assuming that a student's position in his or her social network is static. Rather than being random, one's social network is a product of conscious and dynamic choice. Social networks, particularly among college freshmen, can change considerably over time – e.g. a student can break up with an underachieving friend and seek the company of A-graders.
Friends Can Help with Studies
According to the authors, in choosing friends, students do not usually consider academic performance, but over time – often in the middle of the academic year – all members in a peer group tend to perform at about the same level.
According to the authors, while underachievers have a stronger influence on their networks, high performers tend to gain popularity and expand their influence over time, particularly by helping other students with their studies.