Parents buying bad marks, study finds

You may owe OSAP more that you think. A new study has found the more money parents invest in their child’s collage education, the lower their grades are likely to be.

The study More Is More or More Is Less? by University of California, Merced sociology professor Laura Hamilton draws on data from three longitudinal federal U.S. databases, and her own qualitative observations after living on an all women’s floor of a dormitory at a Midwestern University.

The study found students whose parents supported them with little to no discussion about their expectations earned the lowest grades. Indeed, in her quantitative research Hamilton found that clear goal setting between the parent and the student about expected university performance mitigated any potential negative effects.

In essence, this study backs the idea that parental financial support can act as a “moral hazard’” in that students make decisions about how seriously to pursue their studies without having personally made the financial investment.

Katrina McIntosh, resource coordinator at the Western Student Success Centre, supports these findings and stressed the importance of motivation in maintaining good grades.

“It’s important, even if someone is paying for something for you—something like your education—that you still need to make it your own.”

McIntosh underlined the importance of following your own strengths and being honest about your goals.

“You’re going to be much more motivated [that way] than having some sort of top-down parental decision enforced on you,” she said. “This is your future. This is where you’re going to be for the rest of your life so it needs to be your decision as well.”

The study also found students financially supported by their parents were much more likely to graduate in under five years—most likely because they were unhindered by finical concerns.