Influence of parents on first year undergraduate student adjustment and academic achievement at university

  • Catherine Foster

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Following significant changes to HE, not least the marketization of HE, it is imperative that institutions understand the student experience in order to ensure appropriate support is offered. Using Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and habitus, this study looks to understandthe influence of parents on the student experience by comparing parental capital (their experience of HE, referred to as PEHE) and Term Time Accommodation (TTA) as key variables. Parents have been established as being crucial to a child’s educational success prior to entry, however, little is known of their importance for university students. Data were gathered from a large-scale online survey from 750 first year undergraduate students, using the Student Adjustment to College Questionnaire (Baker & Siryk, 1986), to establish the impact of the key variables on student adjustment, withdrawal and academic achievement. Phase I established that students living at home were significantly more likely to withdraw than those living in halls. Phase II concluded that parents were found to be key to students’ decision to go to university and their support was valued by students. Further, a path was established which suggests that PEHE is related to TTA, which is related to levels of adjustment, which is then significantly correlated to achievement.Students living in halls are more likely to report higher levels of adjustment and achieve  higher marks than students living at home. Significantly, students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds reported higher levels of total adjustment and achievement when living at home, whereas students from white backgrounds reported higher levels of adjustment and achievement living in halls. Whilst parents remain important for individuals, overall it is TTA that is significant in the student experience, not just in terms of adjustment, but also achievement. The findings have clear implications for the support offered by universities
Date of Award12 Jun 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnn Davis (Supervisor) & Helen Higson (Supervisor)


  • experience
  • family
  • performance
  • transition
  • capital

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