Do Family Dinners Help Students Get In to College?

ByABC News
April 5, 2006, 3:15 PM

April 6, 2006 — -- As admission to college gets even more cutthroat, a key to getting in to one's first-choice school might be found at the family dinner table.

Frequently sharing meals together can help foster healthy parent-child relationships, many experts said. Teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school and much less likely to have substance-abuse problems, according to a recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

Some college admissions experts said that can translate into acceptance to the student's college of choice.

"Families that discussed daily events, life expectations as well as college expectations had a clearer view of what made for a successful college experience," said Mark H. Sklarow, executive director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, citing feedback from the group's members.

"We also concluded that students with close family upbringings adjusted better to living with others, socializing with others and respected the need of roommates for some alone time."

Rakeish Bedesi -- president of, an advice and networking service -- said he sees a "complete difference between families where parents and children regularly discuss issues together and those that don't.

"It really comes down to the individual student, but the totality of it is that when families have dinner together it actually says that nothing else matters but you. It actually fosters that environment with the child that, hey, my parents are here for me."

The ordeal of the application is also often easier when parents and students have a close relationship, Bedesi said. Educational consultant and admissions strategist Steven Roy Goodman at said, "Oftentimes, there are kick-down fights. Moms want them close by, dads want to spend less money and kids want to be left alone."