College Essay Examples



Communication between parents and students has a range of outcomes, though generally, an increased level of communication is associated with positive outcomes. Both psychological and academic improvements may occur as a result of this communication, which may be of help to students who are distressed. Whether people communicate will rely on factors such as gender and ethnicity, and how they communicate differs, with recent changes shifting the method of communication to text messaging. What essay writer follows is a more through engagement with the literature regarding communication between students and parents.


Cross-sectional study examined how attachment impacted academic achievement (Fass & Tubman, 2002). Following examination drawn from 357 college students, the researchers concluded that increased peer and parent attachments were associated with improvements to GPA. Such findings were indicative of how attachments facilitated improved academic performance.

Research indicated that use of phones to talk frequently with parents was associated with closer feelings of intimacy and support with parents (Gentzler, Oberhauser, Westerman, & Nadorff, 2011). There was also a positive correlation between increased contact and closer relationships (Miller-Ott, Kelly, & Duran, 2014). Researchers examined 207 undergraduate students using a cross sectional survey. Following analysis of the results, the researchers concluded that students who contacted their parents more often had a closer relationship with them than did students who contacted their parents less frequently.

The sum findings of Chen and Katz (2009), Gentzler et al. (2011) and Miller-Ott et al. (2014) indicated the value of increased communication and several benefits of that contact. The findings were important  considering that in a study of 128 international students, many of the participants demonstrated psychologically maladaptive processes (Sandhu, 1994). Research drew upon a sample of 128 individuals and found that feelings of deprivation, homesickness, and fear were prevalent among these individuals.

The beneficial aspects of communication were also found in research findings from Smith, Nguyen, Lai, Leshed, and Baumer (2012). This study of 16 females and 3 males indicated that communication among first year college students with their parents was associated with increased feelings of closeness with parents and provided increased social support. These positive mental health benefits stood to benefit populations such as those studied by Sandhu (1994) who often suffered mentally from their separation.

Sandhu’s (1994) findings that international students suffered mentally was not the only finding that students suffered distress in college. Researchers used a cross sectional survey method to determine how students communicated with their parents and when they communicated (Trice, 2002). The researchers found that college students experienced periods of distress. However, this was also a period during which these students were more likely to email their parents.

Despite the positive outcomes associated with increased communication, women are more likely to use communication technologies than men (Junco, Merson, & Salter, 2009). In a survey of 4,491 college students, men were less likely to use such technology. These findings were consistent with the research by Mattanah, Hancock, & Brand (2004). This study drew upon a sample of 404 college students. Following administration of a cross-sectional survey, the researchers concluded that females communicated more with their mothers than males did. However, it should also be noted that the likeliness of communication was also found by Wei and Lo (2006) to be reliant on already existing feelings of affection toward families.

Communication with parents was also associated with improvements in academic adjustments (Mattanah et al., 2004), reinforcing the findings of Junco et al. (2009) that communication with parents brought beneficial results. The findings that females communicate with their parents more than males was consistent with research conducted by Sun, Bell, Feng, and Avery (2009). This longitudinal analysis of parental bonds with students drew upon 247 college students. The analysis examined the links between students and parents and yielded data that indicated that parent-adolescent bonds were strong among women than men. In combination with the findings Mattanah et al. (2004) that females were more likely to communicate with their parents and created a larger portrayal of females as more likely to communicate and solidify relationships through that communication.

            In general, positive outcomes can be anticipated when communication is ongoing between parents and students. This level of communication helps to promote feelings of intimacy and can help to improve academic outcomes  among students. Given that students experienced periods of distress, particularly among international students, students may benefit from the mental health benefits of reaching out to their parents. However, the likeliness of such communication occurring relied partly on gender, influencing the chance of communication between parents and students.

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Methods of Communication

Researchers examined parent-student expectations and discrepancies in those expectations (Agliata & Renk, 2007). This study drew upon a sample of 174 college students, including 69 male students and 105 female students. A cross-sectional survey was administered to collect data. Following analysis of the data, the researchers concluded that students who held lower levels of self-worth beliefs were more likely to experience higher levels of discrepancy in their expectations versus their parents’ expectations regarding how the other would communicate. The findings were indicative of how self-worth impacted communication expectations in students and created disparities between parents, perhaps further fueling lowering beliefs of self-worth (Agliata & Renk, 2007).

Researchers determined that the cell phone played a critical role in the methods that students used to communicate (Chen & Katz, 2009). Following examination of data drawn from a sample of 40 college students, researchers concluded that the cell phone played an important role in facilitating communications between students and parents. However, whether individuals used their phones to communicate with parents relied on affection felt toward families (Wei & Lo, 2006).  Researchers drew upon a sample (n = 909) that included 278 males and 531 females. Following the use of a cross sectional survey, the researchers analyzed the data and determined that the affection individuals felt toward their families was an indicator of the likeliness they would be in contact using mobile phones (Wei & Lo, 2006).

There was also an ethnic divide in the use of these electronic communication technologies (Junco et al., 2009). African Americans were more likely to use their mobile phones to talk and text than any other ethnic group. When combined with the findings of Gentzler et al. (2011), this suggested an avenue by which African Americans may experience more feelings of parental support. However, this assumption was contradicted by Wolf, Sax, and Harper (2009) who found that while that non-white individuals contacted their parents more frequently and yet experienced lower level of parental engagements in their academic lives. This presented conflicting ideas about whether contact between ethnic minorities and their parents generated increased positive outcomes or not, requiring further study to clarify the outcomes.

There was also a shift in electronic communications between 2009 and 2011 (Ramsey, Gentzler, Morey, Oberhauser, & Westerman, 2013). The use of a cohort study was used to determine how communications had changed between 2009 and 2011.  The researchers concluded that one of the primary shifts had been the reduction in emails and phone calls during a simultaneous increase in the use of texts.

When discussing methods of communication, it’s also important to take into account more than just the medium by which communication occurs, but also the communication styles involved. A study of Chinese parent-child relationships indicated that communication was primarily conversation oriented, as an example (Zhang, 2007). Survey of 340 Chinese college students indicated this style of conversation was used over a conformity-oriented communication style, which refers to conversations that adhere to rule and expectations about what should be discussed.


There are different forms of communication technologies that have changed over the years, with a steady shift toward individuals employing text messages. However, phone calls and emails do still occur to a lesser degree. Different  factors also impact the likeliness of the use of these technologies, and how families communicate within conversations may differ based on cultural context. Because of these many different factors, different students are more likely to be in frequent contact with parents. This poses a problem given that there are both emotional and academic benefits to be had from increased contact. The literature review therefore yielded information regarded methods and outcomes of parent-student communication.


Agliata, A. K., & Renk, K. (2007). College Students’ Adjustment: The Role of Parent–College Student Expectation Discrepancies and Communication Reciprocity. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(8), 967-982. doi:10.1007/s10964-007-9200-8

Chen, Y., & Katz, J. E. (2009). Extending family to school life: College students’ use of the mobile phone. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 67(2), 179-191. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2008.09.002

Fass, M. E., & Tubman, J. G. (2002). The influence of parental and peer attachment on college students’ academic achievement. Psychology in the Schools, 39(5), 561-573. doi:10.1002/pits.10050

Gentzler, A. L., Oberhauser, A. M., Westerman, D., & Nadorff, D. K. (2011). College students’ use of electronic communication with parents: links to loneliness, attachment, and relationship quality. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(1-2), 71-74.

Junco, R., Merson, D., & Salter, D. W. (2010). The Effect of Gender, Ethnicity, and Income on College Students’ Use of Communication Technologies. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(6), 619-627. doi:10.1089/cyber.2009.0357

Mattanah, J. F., Hancock, G. R., & Brand, B. L. (2004). Parental Attachment, Separation-Individuation, and College Student Adjustment: A Structural Equation Analysis of Mediational Effects. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51(2), 213-225. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.51.2.213

Miller-Ott, A. E., Kelly, L., & Duran, R. L. (2014). Cell Phone Usage Expectations, Closeness, and Relationship Satisfaction Between Parents and Their Emerging Adults in College. Emerging Adulthood, 2(4), 313-323. doi:10.1177/2167696814550195

Ramsey, M. A., Oberhauser, A. M., & Gentzler, A. L. (2015). 10. College Students’ Use of Communication Technology with Parents: Influences of Distance, Gender, and Social Presence. The Psychology of Social Networking Vol.2. doi:10.1515/9783110473858-012

Sandhu, D. S. (1994). An examination of the psychological needs of the international students: Implications for counselling and psythotherapy. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 17(4), 229-239. doi:10.1007/bf01407739

Smith, M. E., Nguyen, D. T., Lai, C., Leshed, G., & Baumer, E. P. (2012). Going to college and staying connected. Proceedings of the ACM 2012 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work – CSCW ’12. doi:10.1145/2145204.2145322

Sun, S., Bell, N. J., Feng, D., & Avery, A. W. (2000). A Longitudinal Analysis of Parental Bonds and Relational Competencies during the College Years. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 8(2-3), 149-181. doi:10.1080/02673843.2000.9747849

Trice, A. D. (2002). First semester college students’ email to parents: I. Frequency and content related to parenting style. College Student Journal, 36(3), 327-335.

Wei, R., & Lo, V. (2006). Staying connected while on the move. New Media & Society, 8(1), 53-72. doi:10.1177/1461444806059870

Wolf, D. S., Sax, L., & Harper, C. E. (2009). Parental Engagement and Contact in the Academic Lives of College Students. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 46(2). doi:10.2202/1949-6605.6044

Zhang, Q. (2007). Family Communication Patterns and Conflict Styles in Chinese Parent-Child Relationships. Communication Quarterly, 55(1), 113-128. doi:10.1080/01463370600998681

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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