Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Recent studies have noted the increasing communication between parents and students while students are in college (College Parent, 2007; Hofer & Moore, 2010). The most recent study noted that the interaction between parent and student during the last year of college averages over 13 times a week (Hofer & Moore, 2010). While many articles in the popular press have offered conjecture as to the developmental impact of this new data, very little has been done to understand the nature of the contact between parents and students as it relates to developmental outcomes (Carroll, 2005; Hoover, 2008). This study provides insight into the nature of communication between parents and students during the last two years of college, and attempts to understand the impact of this communication on the development of independence, self-direction, and critical thinking. This study also attempts to understand the viewpoint of the parent specifically, and how the parent communicates with their son or daughter to achieve specific developmental outcomes.

In this study, I individually interviewed 12 parents of college students. Each college student was in their last two years of study at the time of the interview. The findings of this study indicate that parents have a good understanding of the need of their son or daughter to have intellectual space to "hear their own voice," and parents avoid giving the "right answer" order to allow students to problem-solve. Parents more often ask students to come up with a solution and then help them vet the different alternatives. This approach is rejected when a student encounters an interpersonal conflict however, and parents are more likely to give direct advice about how to proceed. Finally, this study indicated that parents who communicate multiple times a day with their student and describe their family as close are more likely to expect to have some impact on decisions post-college, especially in terms of career-related decisions. Implications for higher education and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.