Transformative Experiences in College: Connections and Community explores the intersection of two concepts: transformative experience in college and the communities in which students learn. Emerging from a five-year longitudinal interview study tracking a panel of 75 students through four years at a selective liberal arts college, this book provides a rich depiction of how aspects of the college community (and the relationships developed within that community) create opportunities for transformative experiences that lead to personal and academic growth. Neal Christopherson argues that transformative experiences in college are primarily the results of interactions with other people and with a broader campus community, documenting the ways in which relationships with faculty, experiences in courses, interaction with peers, and the general institutional environment can generate these experiences. Christopherson also touches on extracurricular and co-curricular activities, the importance of a healthy environment for interacting with difference, and how students transition out of the institution. Scholars of education, sociology, and communication will find this book particularly useful.
Neal Christopherson is director of institutional research at Whitman College.
Chapter 1: Transformative Experiences
Chapter 2: Academic Growth
Chapter 3: Personal Growth
Chapter 4: Interacting with Difference
Chapter 5: Life Outside of Academics
Chapter 6: Transitioning Out of College
Chapter 7: Connections and Community
About the Author
Neal Christopherson’s Transformative Experiences in College brings to life, in close, sometimes gripping detail, the pervasive influence of interpersonal relationships on students at residential undergraduate institutions – and how that influence comes not only from particular friends, professors, and advisors, but eventually from the organic whole of any particular campus community at large. The prose is completely accessible to students and parents as well as professionals, and the general argument shines through countless stories, mostly told in the words of undergraduates themselves. A bracing reminder, in a time of online info-exchange, of how profoundly true education is shaped by the intimate, daily contacts that we are so in danger of losing.
What is the value of a college education? In seeking answers to this question, Transformative Experiences in College chronicles a set of practices that grow out of and are sustained by supportive college environments. Although students graduate with important skills and a knowledge base that is both broad and deep, the relationships they develop with faculty, staff and peers play a significant role in their academic and personal growth. Informed by compelling narratives of students who were interviewed repeated, and well-grounded in the higher education literature, Christopherson offers valuable lessons to college administrators about creating cultures that can increase the likelihood of student success.