September 7, 2019  |  Purdue University Global

Peer-to-peer support is a vital aspect of student success in higher education.

“Students with strong peer-to-peer support structures in place stay at the institution and graduate at higher rates,” says Jenny Nichols, manager of Student Life at Purdue University Global. “Having a community of people to lean on helps them move forward and be successful, even in the face of roadblocks to graduation. It helps students stay on the path to their degree.”

What does peer-to-peer support look like for online learners, who don’t have physical classrooms and campuses to facilitate the formation of peer relationships? This article examines the importance of peer-to-peer support for online college students.

What Is Peer-to-Peer Support?

“Simply put, peer-to-peer support is students sharing their experience and encouragement with other students to help them be successful,” Nichols says.

Strong peer-to-peer support facilitates community building among students. “There are going to be obstacles on the way to graduation, such as family responsibilities, difficult classes, financial issues, or other hurdles,” Nichols says.

“When one student who is struggling reaches out, the others can provide solutions and support. It helps students feel that they have a place to belong, and, when that happens, they tend to remain at the university and press on to graduation.”

How Do Online Learners Access Peer-to-Peer Support?

Online learners connect with other students through their classroom discussion boards. This happens often and in an organic and informal way.

The Office of Student Life is another important avenue for establishing these peer relationships.

“At Purdue Global, we offer a number of student organizations through Student Life, and students can receive academic support through our Academic Success Center,” Nichols says. “We nurture the growth of peer-to-peer relationships through these organizations and their events and initiatives. This helps students connect on a more personal level.”

Take, for example, the student organization Autism Speaks U at Purdue Global. This group engages both the campus community and the local community to raise awareness of autism issues, fundraise for Autism Speaks, and help those struggling with the disorder. As members carry out this work, they form important bonds with other members.

“When students work together on a fundraiser, they're not only raising funds for a mission that’s close to their hearts, but they’re building relationships with other students, sharing their stories, and growing their support systems with others who are striving to reach the same goal: graduation.”

Oct. 8 Forum Explores the Benefits of Co-Curricular Activities for Online Learners

Purdue Global knows that when students get involved in co-curricular activities, they experience better outcomes.

On Oct. 8, 2019, join our Office of Student Life in partnership with the Learning for Success Initiative for the Student LIFE: Involvement for Success Forum. Students and faculty will discuss how involvement in co-curricular activities can help students achieve their educational and career goals.

The forum will be held in the Purdue Global Virtual Conference Center (PG Connect) and is open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Purdue University Global. Join us to learn more about the benefits of co-curricular engagement and peer-to-peer support.

Learn more about the Student LIFE: Involvement for Success Forum on Oct. 8, 2019.

Filed in: Online Learning


About the Author

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized, world-class education online that's tailored for adults. We offer 175 programs, including associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees as well as certificates, in areas such as business, IT, education, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, and more.


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