Sarah Kathryn Skidmore



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Much research on orientation focuses on how parental involvement affects retention or overall first-year student success in college. However, there is a lack of research focusing on orientation solely and what happens to students if parents are or are not able to attend with the student. This study uncovers just that, allowing for a shift in focus from retention to the emotional side of a student and how having one or both parents present may or may not affect their emotional transition into college. Orientation is the time where students and families are given as much information as possible to feel prepared for the start of this new journey. The experience can make or break a student’s perception of their new college home, and having parents there adds another whole dimension to a student’s feelings of comfort and support. Through a qualitative, narrative approach, this research delves into the lives of five students who did and six students who did not have parents present at orientation. Students reflect on their perceived levels of anxiousness, preparedness, support, autonomy and independence, ability to meet people, and their space to develop identity and self-authorship all in relation to whether or not their parents were able to attend orientation with them. This study helps student affairs professionals better understand what affect parental presence at new student orientation has on incoming students. It helps institutions decide whether to have more or less parent sessions during orientation. It also helps institutions see how students are feeling when they do not have a parent present, possibly suggesting ways that institutions can provide opportunities for these students to have sessions that still allow them to feel that same type of support as students whose parents were present.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Graham F. Hunter

Primary Advisor's Department

Counselor Education


Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences

Student Perception of Parental Involvement in College Orientation