What College Students Really Need: 7 Essentials

Study reveals more is less when it comes to parental aid
By Denise Darcel
Denise Darcel
Denise Darcel
August 28, 2013 Updated: August 27, 2013

An impressionable young adult is going off to college, and it is one of the most crucial investments a parent makes. The responsibilities that come with adulthood can become overwhelming, but lack of responsibility can result in poorer academic performance. 

A recent study by Laura T. Hamilton, assistant professor in the school of social sciences, humanities, and arts at the University of California, Merced, suggests that monetary provision may hinder the growing process. 

“Students with parental support are best described as staying out of serious academic trouble, but dialing down their academic efforts,” wrote Hamilton in the study, titled “More Is More or More Is Less? Parental Financial Investments during College.”

The study found that students’ GPAs were generally lower when more parental aid was given. However, the study also found that the more parental aid, the more likely the student is to see their education through to graduation.

Hamilton notes that many funding sources such as grants and scholarships, work-study, student employment, and veteran’s benefits do not have negative effects on student GPA. Unlike parental aid or loans, these other funding sources may come with a sense of having been earned by the student. 

Hamilton cautions that the study’s results do not mean that parents should cut off financial support altogether. 

However, it is important for parents to set standards, such as a required GPA, and it is important for them to hold their children accountable for their performance, according to the American Sociological Association’s webpage.

Financial support may not be enough to foster maturity and responsible life choices for freshmen going off to college. According to J. T. Alston, a junior at South Carolina State University, there is a growing process that occurs during time away from home in the college environment.

“I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement from the end of my freshmen year until now. My Freshman year at college was tough,” said Alston. “I struggled with time management. As time progressed, I set a schedule for myself, refocused.”

What happens behind college doors depends upon many factors.

“I wouldn’t say that financial help hinders the student. I would say that it’s the state of mind that the student has that breeds success,” said Alston. “Being away at college offers many struggles that others who are close to home don’t realize or don’t think of as struggling.” 

Here is a list of important needs and considerations for college students from a student’s perspective, provided by Alston: 

1) Emotional support is very important. Just because a student doesn’t always talk to their parents, doesn’t mean that everything is okay—sometimes its not. 

2) Food—what to eat and how to prepare it is also important. Many campus cafeterias close in the evening, and students need to know how to eat healthy and survive. 

3) How to manage finances—it can be tough and things can happen unexpectedly. Consider opening a saving account or other similar options, and consider consulting a financial advisor. Not all students are employed, and many jobs are not long term.

4) Dorm room etiquette—learn to cohabitate.

5) Learn how to effectively handle emergencies. 

6) Keep a weekly planner.

7) Social skills—for students living away from home, living under one roof with different personalities is something you can’t always prepare for, but you can have a good attitude and be willing to grow.

Denise Darcel
Denise Darcel