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College students' perceptions of parental interventions

Wanda S Ingram, Johnson & Wales University


A student's transition from high school to college involves a search for identity, a struggle with new freedoms, and a balance between independence and attachments to parents. In addition, students are confronted with demanding responsibilities, such as budgeting money, managing time, and learning how to set their own limits on social activities. Leaving home for college is seen as a positive experience for a student, but the adjustment can result in stress for both student and parent. Parents have become increasingly involved in K–12 education of their children (Salome, 2000). Parents, who regard college-aged students as children instead of adults, become more involved in their lives (Elkind, 1994). Parents of traditional-aged college students play a significant role in their children's adjustment to college (Daniel, Evans, & Scott, 2001). Research examining influences on first-year college students exerted by parents through their interventions is sparse. The purpose of this study was to explore how college sophomores at a Catholic liberal arts college perceived the following: parent interventions during the first year, the impact of these parental interventions on student adjustment, and recommendations for resources to help students and parents. The study used a qualitative approach with a multiple case study method. Data were obtained from questionnaires, scenario-guided focus groups, and in-depth, one-on-one follow-up interviews with students. The sample consisted of 24 students, divided into three focus groups of eight students each. The students identified parents as a major source of support during their first year in college. However, students observed that parents often did not understand the major differences between high school and college and failed to alter their expectations accordingly. Results of the study indicated new ways to extend and clarify quality relationships between students and parents that would promote positive adaptations to the college environment. Despite the limitations of a small sample, the study provided valuable information on ways to help parents improve interactions with their first-year college students. Students' perceptions of parental interventions provided useful resources for revising parent literature and programs, particularly at the study site.

Subject Area

Higher education|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Ingram, Wanda S, "College students' perceptions of parental interventions" (2003). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3106409.