Parents of college students regularly find themselves in quite a bind – they have to figure out that delicate balance between being an authority figure while simultaneously respecting their kids’ increasing independence. This is because typical college students, as well as other individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, are commonly referred to as emerging adults -- those in this age range do not entirely view themselves as adults nor do they view themselves as kids. As a result, parents of college students have to somehow be a parent to someone who may no longer live under the same roof, but is typically not living entirely independently and grappling with all of the complications that a full-fledged adult life entails either (not to take anything away from the huge responsibilities that many college students deal with every day). Simply put: When is it appropriate for parents of college students to put their foot (or feet) down and provide direction vs. hold back and let their kids make their own mistakes? Balance this conundrum with the knowledge that parents’ aging children actually like their parents more when they maintain appropriate boundaries, and you have a recipe for quite the pickle.
Entries in college (10)
Do you believe these statements?
- College students today care more about hooking up than forming meaningful relationships.
- Hooking up on college campuses is rampant.
- Millennials are part of a “hook-up culture” that did not exist in the past.
I mean, they sound perfectly reasonable, especially based on what you’ve likely seen in the media about Millennials (i.e., those born in the 80s and 90s). However, just because it feels true doesn’t mean it is actually true. Let’s see if these statements are correct by examining what the most recent science has to say. (For a primer on “hooking up,” click here.)
Do College Students Care More about Hooking Up than Forming Meaningful Relationships?
To answer this question, researchers surveyed over 200 college students and asked them which of the following they preferred for themselves:
The Sex Lives of College Students, by Sandra L. Caron, Ph.D., presents the results of a human sexuality survey administered over the past two decades to thousands of college students ages 18-80. Responses by 4,683 college students between the ages of 18-22 are compiled in the book. The more than 100-question survey has been administered during the first week of every human sexuality class at the University of Maine since 1990. The undergraduate class has a capacity enrollment of 350 students and regular waiting lists. In 2010, several new questions were added and refined to address the latest issues and trends, including the use of social media to facilitate relationships and use of morning-after pills.
The book is not the be-all and end-all survey on the sex lives of college students. It is not representative of a cross-section of all college students across the country, but it does give us a glimpse of a student sample from a mid-size public research university. Indeed, it is a unique perspective informed by a 20-year data set. The data facilitate the tracking of trends and comparison of changes in attitudes and behaviors. Because of its longevity, the survey includes not only the views of today’s college students, but also those of their parents, including some who may have sat in the same lecture hall taking the course in human sexuality.
The goal is to survey college students’ attitudes and behaviors at the start of the course. And while many of the students enrolled in the course are majoring in the social sciences, the students represent every college and major at the university. This book presents results over the past two decades from 1990 to today. It highlights findings on college students’ sexual behaviors, sexual attitudes, parental influence, safer sex/HIV, the difficult side of sex, and newer data. Below are 10 things that have changed sexually over the last two decade for college students:
If you're not careful, passive reading of all the press on the college "hook-up" culture would lead you to believe that college campuses are just big orgies. In fact, SofR's Tim Loving recently surveyed a group of 60 students and asked them how many sexual partners they think typical college students rack up during college, and the overwhelming majority assumed it was on the order of 5-10 partners! Who has time for studying?
Now that the summer is coming to a close, young adults are fervidly preparing for their transition to college (though they may be more excited about leaving their parents’ house). College, of course, offers incoming students many social novelties: independence, new friends, all-nighters to cram for finals, and perhaps even new “temptations” around campus (you may very well find yourself checking out the facebook page of the person in the next dorm). But what if you are entering the ivy-covered walls while still involved in a relationship with your high school sweetheart? Should you break up with your romantic partner, or should you maintain the relationship?
At the recent conference on relationships research that many of us attended, some folks mused about the increased attention social science is giving to uncommitted relationships, casual sex, and “hooking up,” as if it’s a new thing culturally (when in fact, it may not be). For those who are old enough to remember the 1960s and 70s, those times marked a period known as the sexual revolution and casual sex was very common. So why has it taken so long for scientists to catch up? Or is there something different about our society today?
It is the day after Thanksgiving weekend and thousands of undergrads are emerging from a turkey-induced slumber, packing up their leftover turkey sandwiches, and heading back to their dorm rooms newly single. Yep, you got it, they’ve been Turkey Dumped – or at least this is what contemporary dorm room legend implies.
As I look out my office window at the freshmen moving into the dorms, I’m reminded of a classic study of student housing at MIT demonstrating the importance of physical proximity on forming friendships. Most college friendships developed between people who lived near to each other; those living close to stairwells and mailboxes (i.e., gathering places) became the most popular residents. So if you want to make friends, be seen and interact with others.
Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups: A study of human factors in housing. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press.
For a .PDF version of this article, please click here. This article is free to any college/university for dissemination to students (e.g., as part of college orientation, first-year seminar, or college course).
College is all about new experiences: the start of a new life, new friends, new freedom, and new relationship experiences. Not surprisingly, romantic relationships are responsible for life’s happiest moments.1 For that reason, it is important to avoid problematic relationships that could jeopardize your college education. To help, we’ll identify qualities of healthy relationships in the context of common relationship experiences that students encounter during their first year in college.
Men and women view their own bodies differently after having sex for the first time. According to research led by Sara Vasilenko, when college-aged men lose their virginity, they become happier with their looks, whereas college-aged women become less happy with their looks after having sex.
Vasilenko, S. A., Ram, N., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2011). Body image and first sexual intercourse in late adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 327-335.