Parental influence affects students’ academic careers

Some students experience constant pressure from their parents to succeed in college with high grades. Some parents even go so far to choose their child’s major and career for them.

Architecture junior Yang Sun, like many international students, came to the United States in pursuit of education.

What sets Sun apart, though, is he didn’t choose or want to come to the U.S. for high school or college. Sun didn’t even choose his major. These decisions were made by his parents, he said.

Sun is originally from Beijing. He said parental pressure to be successful is a common theme in his culture because most couples only have one child, unless they have the money to pay the high governmental fines for having a larger family. Sun said because he is an only child, his parents pressure him to be successful and have a better life.

Sun moved to the U.S. by himself at the start of high school. Then, he began attending UTA. Though being farther from his parents has made the pressure more bearable, it has also made things more difficult.

“I’m holding the F1 visa for international students, so I can’t work,” Sun said. “I have no right to work in the United States, so I have no income. So all the money I use is still from my parents, so I have to follow their mean rules.”

Sun said though he enjoys photography, his parents chose architecture as his major to follow in his father’s footsteps. Additionally, Sun must study as hard as he can and maintain a good GPA. He said his parents have his MyMav password and check his grades.

Liz Hannabas, director of the University Advising Center, said parents are only allowed to call and ask for any information about students, including their grades, if both the student and the parents have signed a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act form.

FERPA is a federal law protecting the privacy of students’ educational records, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.

Though he doesn’t always see eye to eye with his parents, Sun said he respects them.

“Since they are my parents and they support me, I have to make them happy,” Sun said.

Krystal Gomez said she has also felt pressure from her parents to finish her education because her undergraduate career hasn’t looked quite like everyone else’s.

The interdisciplinary senior has been attending UTA for the past five years. In that time, she has had a baby and gotten married, all while working toward her degree. This has created concern, and thus pressure, from her parents to finish college.

“I feel like I have that pressure of needing to hurry up and graduate,” Gomez said.

Her parents became even more worried that her degree would take longer when Gomez found out she was pregnant, she said. However, she said her determination and support from her husband pushed her onward.

“I did it for myself and for that baby, and now look at me, I’m about to graduate in May,” Gomez said.

Many students encounter pressure from their parents as they transition into college, and communicating those feelings can be difficult for some students, Hannabas said. For those students, the Counseling and Psychological Services office can be a great resource on campus.

“You know that your parents have expectations of you, and sometimes students feel that they might have let their parents down,” Hannabas said.