Bryan Caplan  

School Networking: Friends versus Connections

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Thanks to everyone who participated in my exploratory survey on school networking.  Anyone who wants to play with the data can download it here

At least in this admittedly self-selected sample, the two big patterns are:

1. People make lots of friends at school at all academic levels.

2. People make few professional connections at school at any academic level.

The histograms...

Question 1: How many people you met in K-12 are you still friends with?

q1.jpg

Question 2: How many people you met in K-12 do you professionally interact with?

q2.jpg

Question 3: How many people you met in college are you still friends with?

q3.jpg

Question 4: How many people you met in college do you professionally interact with?

q4.jpg

Question 5: How many people you met in graduate/professional school are you still friends with?

q5.jpg

Question 6: How many people you met in graduate/professional do you professionally interact with?

q6.jpg

As you might expect, people make the most professional contacts in graduate/professional school: .2 for K-12, .8 for undergraduate, 3.1 for graduate/professional. But the median is zero at all three levels.

You could argue that since my questions specified current interaction, it masks the full impact of professional connections.  Maybe people use connections to jump start their careers when they're young, then gradually lose touch.  However, simple regressions of professional contacts on age lend almost no support to this story.  The average number of contacts lost per year is .01 for K-12, .03 for undergraduate, and .03 for graduate/professional.

P.S. Read this before you invoke "the strength of weak ties."

HT: Caleb Fuller, for tabulating the results.  When respondents gave a finite range, I used the midpoint.  When they gave an infinite range (e.g. 20+), I used the minimum.


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COMMENTS (1 to date)
Roger Sweeny writes:

Not totally on point but a new study from Brookings takes a hit at the strong human capital model:

U.S. News rankings imply that Harvard graduates do well because they went to Harvard, notes Liz Shaughnessy [who wrote about it for cbs moneywatch]. But these schools “primarily admit rich, smart students . . . who may have done well at any college or university.”

from a post by Joanne Jacobs about a Brookings study that purports to measure which colleges and universities rank highest in value added to graduates' earnings ten years out.

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2015/05/beyond-college-rankings/

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