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Bryan Fitzpatrick
Prof. Godbee
ENGL 3210
23 March 2015
Research Grant Proposal - Social Isolation for the Modern College Student
The American collegiate experience is often depicted in our society as a hotbed for
socialization and excitement. However, there are plenty of aspects of collegiate culture that do
not fit this preconceived mold. There are no parties that travel into the small hours of the
morning without the mid-afternoon studying that came before it, and not every weekend is going
to produce a lifelong memory. As a prospective college freshman, I felt that in many ways the
college experience was marketed to me and my peers as a life-changing, bombastic storm of
partying, boozing, and sexual experimentation, and that it had a strong possibility of justifying,
even defining our existence for years to come. Americas obsession with youth culture and its
exploitation of college culture stoked the flames to this unbearable hype.
As a junior in my sixth semester at Marquette University I can honestly say I have
observed and experienced something quite different than the general outsiders perception of the
college experience. This is not the case for all students, but in numerous cases I have seen that
college life can be a time of confusion, exhaustion from packed schedules, and social divergence.
There is no doubt that I have had my share of crazy nights and close experiences with dear
friends, but unfortunately due to the overhype that led into my college experience, the times that
stick out to me the most come from the mundaneness of my day-to-day schedule. The unforeseen
isolation I have encountered on a daily basis has also been a large detriment to my university
experience, both psychologically and academically.
Research Question and Sub-questions
The main question that this proposed research project aims at exploring is the following:
what factors and conditions foster the development of long-lasting personal isolation in todays
university life?
Other questions that I seek to answer through my research include: how do students
individual opinions on the subject of isolation affect their experience with it? What steps could
be taken to prevent cases of excessive isolation? Can the positive aspects of isolation be useful or
applicable to any student?
Key Words

(Social) Isolation
o Loneliness
o Solace

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o Alienation
o Normlessness
o Spatial Isolation
o Excessive Isolation

I am hoping that the results of this project will directly assist the faculty of campus
counseling centers and mental health clinics, so that they may use the information to help
students who seem to be suffering from symptoms related to excessive isolation. I am also
hoping that my research can be used as a general informant for those who are affiliated with
university life, such as professors, advisors, parents of students, and even students themselves,
who may not be entirely aware of this development.
Research Design
For this research project, I used a mixed-method, qualitative approach to obtaining
research. I used a combination of a survey questionnaire, one coded 45-minute interview with a
student in a university, and some qualitative, supplemental research using the Marquette Library
Social Sciences archives. One of the interviews I drew upon came from a 45-minute
conversation derived from our initial assignments in the research project for ENGL 3210, and
includes the only account out of any of the data I retrieved that came from a college student who
was not affiliated with Marquette University. Qualitative analysis was mainly based on
information derived from interviews, whereas the quantitative results from the survey and the
analysis from archival studies were mainly used to support the findings in the interview sections.
Data Collection
The survey questionnaire was submitted to various students in Marquette University,
although the students who took the questionnaire remained anonymous. The surveys questions
retrieved some demographic info about the students, including their major and housing
arrangements either on or off campus. The surveys main content questions had scalable answers
(Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Indifferent) and dealt with students opinions and feelings
towards their own social isolation, as well as determining the average frequency of each
students isolation. It also gauged what factors they thought played the most important role in
affecting isolation rates, either positive or negative. Interview questions played off the inquiries
asked in the survey except from a much more open-ended perspective. The 45 minute interview
was conducted over the phone.

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Data Analysis
For the coding of my interview transcripts, I separated categorical information into what I
perceive to be the three main factors of this study. The first of which was Interaction, such as
the frequency of which, with whom the subject interacts, what kind of interaction (such as digital
or face-to-face), and the subjects level of satisfaction with that interaction. The next category
was Isolation, which pertained to how it affected studying habits, what did the subject do during
their free time, isolation from particular sects of people (such as friends and family), and the
subjects opinions of each of these factors and how they perceive them in their own lives. The
third category, Academic Life, included information on the interviewees schedule, extracurriculars, future academic or career plans, and basic demographics. This last section was
included to highlight any newfound correlations between surface-level university life and social
isolation. In my rhetorical analysis of archival pieces and previous studies, I narrowed down
findings or theories regarding social isolation. I tried to steer away from articles that specified
certain groups of people or certain cultures since my research is primarily based on college
student life, so I tended to look for the more universally applicable articles, or at least ones that
dealt with students.
I expect the results of this research to contribute a number of key findings for my
anticipated audience. Firstly, I expect to have an average percentage of students who find
themselves in daily excess isolation. I also expect to find the specific positive and negative
effects of social isolation for students. Most importantly, through my research I aim to find out
what factors in the modern university culture and individual student lifestyle are affecting rates
of student isolation, and how.
Annotated Bibliography

Campanelli, E. (2009). The internet's impact on social isolation (Order No. 1462574).
Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: Health & Medicine; ProQuest
Dissertations & Theses Global: Literature & Language; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
Global: Social Sciences; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Arts.

The purpose of this project was to examine the Internet's effect on today's young adults.
Twenty Kean University General Psychology students completed a survey on Internet use and
the UCLA Loneliness Scale (Russell, 1996). It was hypothesized that time spent on the Internet
would be positively correlated with feelings of loneliness. Results failed to support this
hypothesis. I was interested in the effects of internet stimulation on students in excessive
isolation and how it may have affected feelings of loneliness, and I found the results were
applicable to my research.

Perse, E. M., & Rubin, A. M. (1990). Chronic loneliness and television use. Journal of
Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 34(1), 37-53.

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Results show that lonely people watch TV to pass the time, & that they perceive the news as
less realistic & soap operas as realistic. For lonely people media use complements, supplements,
or substitutes for interpersonal interaction (eg, friends, family, & social activity). It is concluded
that, as well as increasing boredom, passivity, & withdrawal, loneliness also increases mass
communication use. I chose to use this piece for its correlation between media consumption and
loneliness or withdrawal, and how the first may not be the cause but the effect of the latter.

Akin, A., & Eroglu, Y. (2013). Self-compassion and relational-interdependent selfconstrual. Studia Psychologica, 55(2), 111-121.

The aim of this research is to examine the relationships between self-compassion and
relational-interdependent self-construal. The participants were 338 university students. In this
study, the Self-Compassion Scale and the Relational-Interdependent Self-Construal Scale were
used. The relationships between self-compassion and relational-interdependent self-construal
were examined, using correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis. In correlation
analysis, self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness factors of self-compassion were
found positively related to relational-interdependent self-construal. On the other hand, selfjudgment, isolation, and over-identification factors of self-compassion were found negatively
correlated to relational-interdependent self-construal. Multiple regression analysis showed that
relational-interdependent self-construal was predicted positively only by common humanity.
However, relational-interdependent self-construal was negatively explained by isolation, selfjudgment, and over-identification. According to standardized beta coefficients, the most
significant predictor of relational-interdependent self-construal was isolation. This study best
exemplified the necessary correlation between isolation and a negative self-construal or self

Ma, L. (1986). Alienation of chinese college students in taiwan. Free Inquiry in Creative
Sociology, 14(2), 159-164.

The extent of alienation among Taiwanese College students is assessed on the basis of
questionnaire data from 1,091 students attending two Us. Alienation is conceptualized as having
four dimensions: powerlessness, social isolation, normlessness, & meaninglessness. Alienation
appears to be fairly common among Rs. Many factors explaining it are similar to those in
Western societies such as the US, but others are apparently reflective of the stresses of a rapidly
developing society. Although it may not be as directly culturally applicable, I found this study
applicable to my research for its breakdown of the concept of alienation, and the factors that
correlate with social isolation, such as powerlessness and meaninglessness.