11. Social Capital and Higher Education: Network Resources, Outcomes, and Opportunities
JAMES BRIDGEFORTH AND STEPHANIE M. MCCLURE
In the March 2007 edition of its alumni magazine, the University of Georgia featured a profile of alumnus Hal Bosworth with the title “Happy Accidents.” The profile shared how Bosworth had graduated with a business degree from UGA but little sense of direction in his life. His mom instructed him to go see the man who was president of the company Bosworth’s father had been president of prior to his death. Even though he attended the meeting in jeans and a T-shirt, he left with a job and loan for a suit (Simmons, 2007). The story describes this as one of several “happy accidents” in Bosworth’s biography, but most readers would agree that more than serendipity was at play. Instead, the story reinforces the aphorism “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In higher education, in particular, an arena focused on knowledge acquisition and generation, the role of social capital and social networks in student success, pre- and post-college, is a challenge to the meritocratic ideal. It is nonetheless a demonstrably powerful influence in the world of academe.
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