Alumnae perceptions of the influence of the undergraduate experience on adult friendship and the overall quality of life
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Recent research focuses on the importance of relationships to women's development over the lifespan. The current study of two generations of Sweet Briar College graduates looked at the perceptions of women in the classes of 1965 and 1985 about the influence of their undergraduate experience over their adult friendships. Through a survey, alumnae indicated the types and patterns of friendships they have formed and maintained as adults and ranked the importance of friendships to the total quality of their adult lives In follow-up telephone interviews with randomly selected alumnae in the two classes, both respondents and non-respondents, attributes of the Sweet Briar College undergraduate experience were examined with reference to alumnae opinions about the influence of each on the quality of the undergraduate experience. The results illustrated more similarities between the two classes than differences from the survey and from the telephone interviews. The telephone interviews helped to clarify some of the findings of the survey. Both classes reported a strong perception that friendship is an important aspect contributing to the overall quality of adult life. The two classes selected similar characteristics, purposes, and foundations of close friendships. The two classes indicated the perception that their undergraduate experience had influenced the quality of their adult lives, and the majority in both classes included at least one friend made at Sweet Briar among their current friends. Both classes stated that friends were a positive aspect of the undergraduate experience, and that friends made at Sweet Briar were integral to the way they have remember their undergraduate experience and to the ways in which they choose to relate to the College today. Data from this baseline study and others like it could prove helpful to higher education administrators in a variety of institutional settings with regard to general and specific planning around enrollment management, student development, institutional advancement, and marketing issues.
- Doctoral Dissertations