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The Role That Friendship Plays in the Important College Student Outcomes of Student Engagement, Persistence, and Achievement


Presenter: Andrew J. Mauk

Professional Title: Director of Student Affairs Assessment, Research & Planning

Institution: University of North Carolina Wilmington

Background Experience: Andy Mauk has coordinated assessment and research activities for the Division of Student Affairs at UNCW since August 2011. He is a graduate of the FSU Higher Education program, earning his Ph.D. in 2011. His research interests include student engagement, friendship, and social networks of college students, college student success, and institutional research.


Higher education researchers have long declared that peer groups are important aspects of a student’s experience in college. While friendship is a ubiquitous feature in all social institutions and has been examined in various ways throughout history, it has only been recently that studies investigated the specific role that friendship plays in educational environments. This presentation will examine the findings of a study on the link between friendship and the college student outcomes of engagement, achievement, and persistence.

Important Question Explored: “How much do friendships matter in college student success?”

Extension of Session Experience: A goal of this session is that participants will gain a better understanding of the role that friendship may play in college student outcomes, in particular, how the various types of friends students make matter in the overall college experience. In light of how students “define” their friends in the digital age, this session should be relevant to those seeking new insights into how to effectively assist students through their social and academic experiences on campus.