Birds of a Feather Flock Together. Evidence from a Study on the Networks of First-Year University Students

Teodora Erika Uberti, Gianluca Argentin, Tiziano Gerosa, Marco Romito

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


Research in higher education highlighted that students’ dispositions toward social interaction with peers represent fundamental resources for their long-term academic success. These resources facilitate access to relevant knowledge and opportunities but are not equally distributed across the population. Non-traditional students coming from less advantaged social groups (e.g. working-class, racial minorities, first-in-family students) may lack familiarity with the university system and confidence in their academic ability compared to their middle-/upper-class peers, with negative consequences for the overall quality of their academic experience. In a country such Italy, where upper secondary school track allocations are highly conditioned by students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, and where access to university has long been the prerogative of lyceum students, there is a lack of discussion on how previous school pathways relate to students’ social networking once they enter university. In this study we present the first results of an ongoing research project aimed at exploring whether students’ upper secondary school tracking is associated with their short-term ability to build social networks in a university context. The analyses are carried out on a sample of 267 bachelor’s students in the field of social sciences, enrolled at a single university in northern Italy. Thanks to the collection of peer nominations and the adoption of sociometric techniques and network analysis, we found that students developed differentiated social connections among peers at the beginning of their academic experience depending on the type of upper secondary school they attended. Students from lyceums, in particular, started their academic career with a relational advantage and developed new connections more frequently with peers coming from the same school track.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)149-173
Numero di pagine25
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019


  • Higher education
  • Relational segregation
  • social network analysis


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