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Benson, Janel E. (2007). Make New Friends but Keep the Old: Peers and the Transition to College. Advances in Life Course Research, 12, 309-334.


Tinto's model of student departure posits that college persistence is related to how well students move through three successive stages of social integration: separation from past communities, transition into college community, and incorporation into the college community. While Tinto's model has received a lot of attention, existing studies focus on the final stage of social integration rather than examining it as a developmental process. This chapter draws upon qualitative and survey data from the Philadelphia Educational Longitudinal Study (PELS) to examine the first stage of social integration, separation from previous communities, and how it influences social integration within the college community by investigating college students’ peer relationships across the transition to college. Consistent with Tinto's model, the results show that students who maintained close ties with previous friends, including friends attending the same college, were less likely to report making new friends at college. The ability of students to separate from previous peers, however, is largely conditioned by residence, with students living on-campus more likely to both separate from previous friends and form new friends within the college community than those living off-campus.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Advances in Life Course Research


Benson, Janel E.