The Effects of Prime Supporters within a College Student's Support Network

Nonlinear Dynamics Psychol Life Sci. 2022 Oct;26(4):423-440.


College students face academic and emotional challenges within and outside of the classroom. There is not a unique way to deal with all of these challenges, however obtaining support from other individuals in their network can be an important factor in their success in dealing with these challenges. Exploratory social support network data from 38 undergraduate students were collected and analyzed to find common network structures and examine the relationship between these structures and student characteristics, GPA, perceived social support, and use of other help resources. We found half of the students had what we defined to be a novel network characteristic, prime supporters, which are individuals who provided academic and emotional support to students for both routine and intense academic and emotional problems. We found students with a prime supporter in their social network tended to have higher GPAs and perceived social support than those without a prime supporter. Students with prime supporters also had differences in academic help-seeking behavior. These findings suggest the need for further research on the social networks of college students, particularly the presence of individuals who are providers of multiple sources of support.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Humans
  • Social Networking
  • Social Support*
  • Students* / psychology
  • Universities