The Parent Trap

Most students in college who scroll past this article won’t find it interesting. Most of us are aware that the people who are close to you in your life, especially parents, influence us. Whether or not we choose to accept it, that idea is common knowledge. However seeing as I had no better ideas I decided to research how parents impact a students life in college anyways. I started with a podcast in which I interviewed people on how their relationship with their parents has changed or stayed the same since moving to school. My research paper was much more concrete and in depth because my podcast sucked in terms of the content. The research from my paper led me to create my ‘Parent Trap’ theory that Millennial’s success in college is heavily influenced by their relationship with their parents.

I have seen a very strong need to rely on parents in my short time at college. There are signs in the laundry room of my dorm’s basement that painfully walk you through how to do laundry, reminding us eighteen-and-above aged independent college students not to mix whites and colors together. Just today I walked past three college age looking people sitting in a car stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. As I was sitting at the bus stop I wondered why no one was getting out to do anything, then I saw a Triple A car pull up, and change their flat. Out of three students no one knew how to change a tire. As explained in one of the studies I read written by Jane Pizzolato, a professor of higher education at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Sherrell Hicklen, a doctoral student in human development at Michigan State University, “Institutions of higher learning are becoming increasingly concerned with the presence that parents have on campus and the impacts they have on student’s critical thinking and problem solving skills.” While knowing how to do laundry and changing a tire might not be indicators of a student’s success in college, knowing how to put yourself out there to solve problems and how to think for yourself are. In the same study, ‘Parental Involvement: Investigating the Parent-Child Relationship in Millennial College Students’, Pizzolato and Hicklen found in their results that 44.3% of students still involve there parents in decision making in college.

I myself am not feeling as adult as I would like to at this point in my life. I recently had to change the location my prescription was sent to from Gig Harbor to Bellingham. This process ended up being as easy as calling my doctor and asking it to be sent to the Rite Aid here. Yet I still called my mom first because I knew that she would be there to help me. As important as it is to have that secure relationship it has obviously hindered my ability to independently solve problems. Knowing my parents will always be there to help be hasn’t been a great incentive for me to solve everything on my own.

It should not be a surprise that bad relationship’s with parents can and most likely will lead to troubles in college. I knew this when I started my research but I did not know specifically how and why this was. Turns out a lot of people have a lot of time on their hands and conducted some very in depth studies on the matter. People such as Pizzolato and Hicklen who I mentioned earlier, Laura Holt who is a professor of psychology at Trinity College Hartford, U.S. Air Force’s Allison Agliata, and Kimberly Renk who works in the department of psychology at University of Central Florida, Orlando. After reading their studies on how parents influence decision making, self worth, and the ability to seek help, I was able to quickly confirm my theory. Most of what determined a students success boiled down to how secure or insecure they were in their relationships with their parents.

Millennial’s have always been accused of being whiny, lazy, and not as hard working as the generations before us. Breaking this mold isn’t easy however when we are never told to fend for ourselves. We’ve grown up in the generation of helicopter parents and technology that makes it near impossible to have privacy from our parents. There is a fine line between what is harmful and helpful when it comes to parental involvement in college. Learning where the right place to draw the line is will be instrumental in aiding students success, not just in their academic career but in their social life as well.

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