Title page for ETD etd-05102001-102254

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Jeffes, Errin J.
URN etd-05102001-102254
Title Alcohol and College Students: Do Parents Matter?
Degree Master of Arts
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Hirt, Joan B. Committee Chair
Cross, Landrum L. Committee Member
Cullen, Jeffrey E. Committee Member
Galway, Alison Committee Member
  • Parental Notification
  • Judicial Affairs
  • Parents
  • College Students
  • Alcohol
Date of Defense 2001-05-09
Availability unrestricted
Higher education in America has attempted to define the relationships it has with both students and parents for many years. While some argue that the philosophy of in loco parentis has seemingly disappeared, others suggest that its return is imminent on American college campuses. One example of this return is the trend among campuses towards notifying parents when students are involved in judicial matters. Recent changes in federal privacy laws have clarified the right of colleges and universities to notify parents when their son or daughter is involved in a violation of the university alcohol policy. There is an assumption that parents will intervene with their students and help the university promote a more responsible use of alcohol.

Many colleges are debating the value of such notifications, but little is known as to whether or not the inclusion of parents in university discipline affects the decisions college students make about their alcohol consumption. The present study used qualitative and quantitative means to address this gap in literature.

Students whose parents were notified of their alcohol violation were interviewed in the qualitative component of the study. The interviews explored the relationships between students and parents before entering college, immediately after enrolling in college, and after parental notification. Students were then assigned positions within three categories of parenting styles (General Relationships, Level of Parental Involvement, and Parental Attitudes Toward Alcohol) for the three time periods explored in this study. The quantitative component explored students' experience with alcohol during the same three time periods. Students completed a pencil and paper survey about their drinking behaviors and were assigned to categories of alcohol consumption for each time period. This enabled the researcher to evaluate whether certain parenting styles were associated with certain drinking patterns. In addition, the researcher examined the results to identify trends in parental relationships and alcohol consumption over the three time periods in question.

The study revealed some interesting findings. First, parent and student relationships appear to improve over time, while the parents' Level of Involvement with their student remains the same. Second, during all time periods, the participants indicated that their parents had little control over their alcohol consumption. Third, while students may have experienced frustration with the parental notification process, most were comfortable with the concept of parents being notified when students have violated university policy with respect to alcohol. Finally, most students came to college with experience drinking alcohol, and most had parents who were permissive in their attitudes towards drinking once students arrived at college. Although the study examined only a limited number of students, the results indicate that universities may want to re-evaluate the way in which they educate students about alcohol.

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