Graduation year drives Facebook connections for college grads

April 30, 2012
Graduation year drives Facebook connections for college grads
Sharing a graduation year, rather than other factors, drives online social networks for college graduates. Credit: North Carolina State University

Are you connected to college friends on Facebook? Research from North Carolina State University shows that these social networks tend to form around graduation year or university housing – rather than other interests.

Researchers examined the first 100 colleges and universities to have students, faculty or staff join when the site exclusively contained .edu email addresses. As students, faculty and staff joined Facebook, social networks were formed. Each university, in essence, formed its own network – ranging in size from 762 to 50,000.

"We wanted to see what defining characteristics grouped people together within these networks," says Amanda Traud, a Ph.D. student in biomathematics at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the study. The social networks studied in this case included all of the users and their Facebook friends from these schools in September 2005. The data was given to the researchers by Adam D'Angelo of Facebook.

The researchers used community detection techniques to identify groups within each network. A community was defined as a group in which individuals were more connected to each other than to the rest of the network. The researchers then used statistical tools to determine what characteristics dominated each group.

"We found that most groups were largely composed of people with the same graduation year, though some groups were composed of people who lived in the same university housing," Traud says. "I found it interesting that the subject people majored in and where people went to high school played little to no role in the social structure."

The university networks that had groups dominated by housing also tended to have smaller residence halls, or halls in which students lived for more than one year.

"This indicates that universities can contribute to creating a strong sense of community among students by manipulating their student housing efforts," Traud says. "In the absence of these efforts, year seems to be the default."

Explore further: Study shows Facebook friend relationships due mostly to similarities between people

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Google, EU dig in for long war

July 20, 2017

Google and the EU are gearing up for a battle that could last years, with the Silicon Valley behemoth facing a relentless challenge to its ambition to expand beyond search results.

Strengthening 3-D printed parts for real-world use

July 20, 2017

From aerospace and defense to digital dentistry and medical devices, 3-D printed parts are used in a variety of industries. Currently, 3-D printed parts are very fragile and only used in the prototyping phase of materials ...

Swimming robot probes Fukushima reactor to find melted fuel

July 19, 2017

An underwater robot entered a badly damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, capturing images of the harsh impact of its meltdown, including key structures that were torn and knocked out of place.

Microsoft cloud to help Baidu self-driving car effort

July 19, 2017

Microsoft's cloud computing platform will be used outside China for collaboration by members of a self-driving car alliance formed by Chinese internet search giant Baidu, the companies announced on Tuesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.