Effects of Divorce on College-aged Students

Introduction

All around the nation thousands of children from divorced parents are suffering from the backlash of a family separation. These negative effects can range from academic or emotional instability. In the case of Blake’s overwhelming issue, his parents recently divorced shortly after his move to college. His mother’s dependency on him affects Blake’s academics and social relationships. Due to having to go home every weekend, his girlfriend is upset and his grades are failing. In addition to this, he has acquired a caffeine addiction and suffers from loss of sleep.

All of Blake’s problems stem from one issue:

Divorce. Image one shows a child crying while the parents argue in the background (Effects of Divorce on Families). Abstract The topic that we chose explores the question: What are the effects divorce has on college students academic success? We will research the possible solutions to this widespread issue, and discover ways to lessen the burden on the people affected. Our focus is to bring awareness to the negative factors college students face in this specific situation. Proposal With the rise of divorce rates becoming a widespread issue, more and more college students are becoming overwhelmed by the emotional strains caused by the parents. Statistics say about 40 to 50% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce. In addition to this, about one million children a year are affected by the divorce. Many of the effects can be visible through students academics, whether it be failing grades or abnormal behavior. Although young children can be affected as well, it is young adults who tend to go unnoticed. This leads to bad behavior and lashing out.

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To lessen the burden on the ones inflicted, we propose a plan to reduce their stress by finding a solution to this issue. We plan to analyze various articles to discover a solution. Our primary audience is the parents of the college students so they can realize the stress they are putting upon their kids. Our secondary audience is the students being affected by the divorce of the parents who are having to deal with the overwhelming stress. Once parents are more aware that young adults can be victims to divorce too, they can then take the actions necessary to avoid problems. A misconception is college-aged kids are mature enough to not be affected. In return, more attention and help is given to the younger children during a divorce. Implementing more programs that allow students, with recently divorced parents, to meet and connect may help reduce the negative effects. Being able to relate with fellow peers can help students realize they are not alone. Secondly, therapy not only with the student but with the parents as well may be a viable solution. When the student has the chance to tell the parents how they feel, this creates more communication within the family. Lastly, a parent’s awareness of the struggles their child is having, whether it be academics or psychological, can be a tremendous help to the student’s wellbeing. Literature Review The purpose of this literature review is to analyze sources found by their relevance and credibility on the topic we are researching. We will organize the review in chronological order by the publication date of each article, starting from the oldest date to the newest. The topic in which we are researching is, “what are the effects divorce has on college-aged students?”

We hope to find solutions to this issue and broaden our knowledge on the many issues college students face. College can be a stressful period of time for younger people and we will determine the different aspects of stress that could be caused by a family separation. In addition to the stress put upon college students, we will talk about how some may abuse drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. The stress put upon the parents involved in a marital divorce will be addressed as well. In this review, we will be comparing various sources and analyzing the different author’s ideas and findings. The first article, published in 2010, titled “Psychosocial well-being and the relationship between Divorce and Children’s Academic Achievement”, was written by Daniel Potter and focuses on the factors that lead up to and in most cases end up in divorce. He explains how “nearly half of all marriages… end in divorce”(1) due to similar situations. Factors like financial stability, diminished parenting skills, parental conflict, and the worsening of parent-child relation. Marriage isn’t an act of partition, it’s a process caused by instability which has a negative effect on kids mentally and that in turn reflects on their academics.

The next article analyzed, published in 2014, titled “Parental Divorce and First-Year College Students’ Persistence and Academic Achievement”, by Krista M. Soria and Sarah Linder argues the correlation between a family separation and a student’s academic success. The authors argue that college students coming from divorced backgrounds have “a significantly lower academic achievement during their first year of study and are less likely to persist to their second year of higher education”(Soria, Linder 26). Although this article was published 4 years after the first, both of the main ideas hold similar concepts. Soria and Linder claim a students academic achievement diminishes when they come from a broken home, similar to Potter’s ideals. As we continue analyzing we discover many research concludes the same thing. The third article that was analyzed was published in 2015, titled “Relation Between Parental Divorce and Adjustment in College Students” by Breanna Connel, DeMarquis Hayes, and Maria Carlson explains the difference of divorce on college students in comparison to students with intact families. The authors of this research found that “compared to those from intact families, children with divorced parents scored significantly lower on measures such as academic achievement, psychological and emotional adjustment, social relations, self-esteem, and conduct”(Connel, Hayes, Carlson 2). Even though this article came out a year after the previous and five years from the one before that, it still shows the relevance of how students with divorced parents reported doing worse off in school than their counterparts of students with intact parents.

This connects well with the other articles and we will continue to look into why this is occurring and how we can fix this issue. The final article discusses Research Findings The event of a divorce in a family can have a large impact on the child’s well being, which is why it is important to instill a strong bond between a parent and the child. A healthy relationship between a child, and either parent can decrease feelings of loneliness and abandonment within the child. Factors such as substance abuse and behavior issues related to divorce have also been proven to reduce in correlation with a stable parent-child relationship (Dawson-McClure, et al., 2008). The New Beginnings Program conducted a study by analyzing mother-child relationships and how they have an impact on the child’s self. The study was conducted by interviewing families on four different occasions. Members of the family were split up and questioned separately to provide accurate information and discretion. After a six-year follow up the researchers concluded, ” this growing body of work provides experimental evidence of the influence of parenting on the development of child and adolescent mental health problems and academic achievement”(Dawson-McClure, et al. 2008).

The study found, after a six-year follow-up, the children with a stable mother-child relationship were less likely to have mental health issues and poor academics. Meanwhile, the children with an unstable relationship were more likely to develop the aforementioned issues. The researchers involved in this study have proven their credibility and have shown their knowledge on the topic. They provide the variables of their research that were not measured and how this could have an effect on their data. In addition to this, the child’s well being after the study is conducted is not recorded. This could assume some issues arise afterward, so the results of the children’s well-being may not be long-lasting. The New Beginnings Program may prove as a solution and bring awareness to the effects a mother-child relationship can have on children involved in divorce. In America, there is “about 40% of children that have divorced parents” (Arkes 1). With the divorce rate being so high, a lot of the older aged children of divorced parents are heading towards substance use.

The main substances that teens and young adults are going for include cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. One of the main reasons that teens will turn to substance use is to utilize it as a coping mechanism. As with most people in the world, when a tragic life changing event happens, they will do almost anything to keep their mind off of what’s giving them trouble. Not only does a divorce in a family make it hard for students to focus, but all the stress that goes along with getting homework done on time, passing their classes and making sure they can have friends to lean on adds to the pressure to do well. One of the only ways that these students know how to cope, as they have seen in movies, or even some friends, is to start using different substances to take them away from the real world and bring them to a calming place. This leads to students becoming less aware of the work that they need to turn in as well as becoming a less involved student. When a student no longer focuses on their grades and feelings, due to substance use, all that is on their mind is, when they will get their next fix. When we talk about a “fix” all we mean is the next time the student has the opportunity to smoke or drink.

The best way that this can be solved is by having less intimidating support groups for these students to attend as well as counseling services in which they will not get in trouble for using depending on their campus rules and regulations. Another way that will help students stray away from substance use is good communication between their families. Strong family ties can significantly help with relieving stress among the teens and parents, which in turn helps the students stay away from the substances that may cause them to break further away from their separated family. Article 2 (Tomas) In comparison to the previous articles, the article “Attachment Reorganization Following Divorce: Normative Processes and Individual Differences” by David A. Sbarra and Jessica L. Borelli discusses the physiological effects divorce has on the parents. The exploration of steps when dealing with divorce are discussed in detail. After a divorce, the attachment for the spouse can lead to a depressed and anxious state. An extreme change in lifestyle can often be very striking and cause a sense of disillusionment along with a long time partner leaving, can impact the behavior and general aspects of life. ” Attachment theory, as outlined by the British physician, John Bowlby [7], and as extended by many others [see 8], provides a robust framework for understanding how people cope with loss and manage the social transition of divorce”.

This can lead to feelings of loneliness and poor mental health. Stressful environments can feed onto the lives of their children and their mental health. This can even apply to older children like college students which comes as an added stressor which causes a decrease in their academics. Falling behind in school can determine the success of a students college achievements and the outcome can greatly affect the developmental growth of a person and set them up for a more challenging life later on. The article also discusses other problems developed as a youth like, emotional trauma, can affect the way stress is perceived by an individual. Article 4: Divorce, Family Structure, and the Academic Success of Children This book found in the Cline Library database, written by William Jaynes in 2002, does research on the academic success of students whose parents have been divorced. Jaynes research looks at the three different types of outcomes possible when looking into parental situations dealing with student academic success. The first outcome he looks into is that students that come from a family that has two parents have better academic success than students coming from one parent homes. Jaynes refers to the study done by Guidubaldi and Perry in 1984, where they found that students coming from a two parents home have better academic success, shown as early as kindergarten (Jeynes 13).

A second study he looks at is the study done by Couch and Lillard in 1997, and the study done by Medick and colleagues in 1990. This study shows that students with two-parent homes have many more advantages than students coming from single parents homes, and was even observed all the way through college to hold true (Jeynes 13-14). The second type of theory he looked into is the theory that students coming from two parent homes have insignificant differences compared to the students coming from single parent homes. This theory explores the possibility that different students will experience different results depending on factors such as age, gender, and race. Jeynes brings up the research done by Solomon and colleagues done in 1972, which shows that African American students may not be as affected by divorce in the classroom as much as white students, although the results of the research did not show a significant difference. The last theory he looked into was that there is no difference in academic success between students coming from one or two parents homes. Jeynes takes the statement from Cortes and Fleming saying, “Although they are few in number, some studies show neither a statistically significant nor an insignificant difference in academic achievement favoring children from intact families. (Cortes and Fleming, 1968; Beer, 1989). Jeynes’ conclusion was that there is no definite answer to how divorce affects student’s academic success and that it affects every student differently.

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