In the recent study “More Is More or More Is Less?” published in the American Sociological Review, the leading journal of the American Sociological Association, Hamilton used data from federal databases to compare financial contributions from parents with the grades attained by students.
The findings suggest that students who receive blank checks from their parents are the ones least likely to excel. Rather than strategically using resources in accordance with parental goals, students are satisficing: they meet the criteria for adequacy on multiple fronts, rather than optimizing their chances for a particular outcome.
As a result, students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school but dial down their academic efforts.
Cutting down completely?
Seemingly contradicting to the first finding, Hamilton’s study also finds a positive association between increased parental contributions and graduation over five years. Also the negative effect of a blank check was diminished when parents had set clear expectations from their children.
Before parents use this research for cutting down completely on their children’s studying expenses, Hamilton concludes that parents should focus on what they are paying for and not just assume that all spending during the college years is equally relevant.
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