Understanding the Attributes: Developing Deep Friendships

The Best Time of Your Life

A popular conception of one’s college years is that it is not only a time of great personal growth and maturation, but also a period in which deep, personal bonds form between classmates, roommates, and teammates. It would be natural to develop intense friendships in these circumstances, but our data show there is a wide variation in friendship development across colleges and universities.

One of the most surprising findings in The Alumni Factor is that only 37.1% of alumni Strongly Agree they developed deep friendships during their undergraduate years. In fact, slightly more than 20% of alumni disagree to some extent they developed such friendships.

 

Bonding Through Common Experience

Small, close-knit college communities tend to create the deepest friendships. In fact, 13 of the Top 20 have less than 2,500 undergraduates. None has more than 4,700 undergraduates.

Another characteristic is having a concentrated student body of one gender, race or religion. Of the Top 20, three are historically Black colleges (Morehouse, Spelman, Hampton). Seven colleges have more than 66% of a single gender (male: Morehouse, West Point, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Air Force Academy; female: Spelman). This does not mean, however, that schools with diverse populations do not allow for the development of deep friendships. Homogeneity does not guarantee close friendships, as both BY U (with a student body over 80% White and over 98% members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints) and the University of Utah (74% in-state and 74% White), show fairly low scores for Friendship Development (BY U ranks 132nd and Utah ranks 224th).