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Washington State University
Washington State University Office of the Provost

Matt Bumpus talks parent-student handbook adaptations

Juggling between a coach, a cheerleader and a safety monitor, parents of incoming college students can face a lot of challenges in helping their child successfully transition into college life. With the addition of college campuses growing in diversity, families face a greater variety of challenges than ever before.

That is why Matt Bumpus, Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Human Development, and a team of researchers are developing adaptations to their parent-student handbook, Letting Go and Staying Connected With Your WSU Student.

Parent-Student Handbook

With influence from work done at WSU, the University of Washington, and evidence-based practices from a variety of sources, Bumpus found there is little data on parents’ effect on college students and thought it could be a way to address the elevated levels of drug abuse, alcohol poisoning, school dropouts and arrests for first-year students.

“Transitioning to college is a different time for students,” he said.”We’ve been interested in helping parents and students succeed for a long time.”

The handbook first came about in July 2013, when they conducted a pilot study for incoming parents of WSU first-year students. Results showed decreased levels of student alcohol and drug abuse, better academic performance, and that students who had participated in the pilot were less likely to get into legal trouble than students without the handbook.

Because of these findings, the National Institute for Drug Abuseoffered a grant in Fall 2016 that allowed researchers to continue and grow the study.

Over 300 WSU families have participated in the study so far. Bumpus and the other researchers hope it reaches the entire WSU campus and, eventually, campuses nationwide.

The book contains conversation starters, activities and important information about college students, based on researchers’ experience with first-year students and on scientific studies about student success.

All components are designed for students and parents to recognize their values and make decisions based on those values.

“It’s helping parents facilitate the student to draw conclusions on what kind of person they want to be and helping the student live that out,” he said.

With only five researchers working on the book, all of whom have very similar backgrounds, the researchers are creating the adaptations to make sure the book is also relatable to first generation and minority students.

“We want to make sure the handbook is as helpful as possible for families with a variety of backgrounds,” he said.

Bumpus said they are currently interviewing a diverse group of parents and students and learning from their experiences to implement the adaptations by next fall (2018).


Katie Shadler, PR Specialist