Parental assistance and first-year college student independence and adjustment

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Alan Taylor


Parental assistance, College student, Independence, Adjustment, First-year students

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The purpose of the present work was threefold: (1) to examine relationships between college student independence, parental support and assistance and college adjustment and achievement; (2) to examine differences in these relationships based on parental marital status and income, gender and first-generation student status and (3) to provide policy recommendations for practitioners to assist them in making decisions about college student relationships with parents.

In fall 2002, first-year entering students were administered Survey 1 consisting of a parental support and assistance instrument and the Psychological Separation Inventory (PSI). At the end of their first semester, students completed survey 2, which consisted of the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ). Student SAT scores, end of first semester GPA and end of year GPA were also obtained.

Findings indicate that college student emotional independence was positively related to college student adjustment for students from intact and high income families. Unexpectedly, for students from non-intact and low income families, functional, emotional and attitudinal independence from parents were negatively related to adjustment in college. For all groups, parental support for autonomy was negatively related to college student independence. Parental assistance with college related activities was positively related to college student independence. Policy recommendations are suggested to help practitioners assess the positive and negative impact of parental assistance for college students.


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