The effect of social factors on students' academic performance in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Author:Umar, S.S.
Position:Report - Survey


College life can be stressful, although it is undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences in one's life. It represents a critical developmental period for both late adolescents and young adults (Chickering, 1969). Social factors such as romantic relationships, organizations and clubs, and sports activities have been found to have effects on students' academic performance. These social factors affect academic performance in terms of time demanded and the psychological state they may cause. A student may be influenced to be involved in any of the stated variables. The question is how one strikes a balance between the stressful academic attainment and social activities.


Environment comprises factors that play a role in academic performance. The environment may be physical or socio-physical. All factors have a direct or indirect relationship with students' performance.

Romantic Relationships

The daily routine of university life brings new sleeping and eating habits, increased workload, and new responsibilities. University students are prone to stress due to the transitional nature of university life (Wright, 1967). They must adjust to being away from home, perhaps for the first time, and maintain a balance between high level of academic success and a new social environment. These daily stressors do not cause anxiety by themselves. Stress results from interactions between stressor and the individual's perception and reaction to them (Romano, 1992). The amount of stress experienced may be influenced by the individual's ability to effectively cope with stressful events or situations (Zurilla and Sheedy, 1991). A romantic relationship may ease environmental stress (Berger, 1997). Paul and White (1990) observe that being in an intimate relationship involves trust, sensitivity, and responsiveness, being able to make a commitment, striving for equity and mutuality. For a student, it also means working to achieve academic balance. However, Zimmer and Ginerbec (2001) find dating has a positive effect on the emotional health of adolescents.

Quatman, et. al., (2001) study dating status, academic performance, and motivation in high schools in the US state of California, showing that students who dated more frequently had a lower academic performance. The study supported a significant relationship between dating status and academic achievement, which can cause serious problems among university students (Prisbell,1986). While having an intimate relationship may have benefits for emotional health, that being overly involved in dating is associated with a more negative effect on the psychosocial function and health of students (Baumeister,1995).

Clubs and Organizations

Research conducted by Kerssen-Griep, Hess, and Tree. (2003) on learning motivation and interaction in school shows that student perception of instructional behaviour sustains their involvement in classroom. Jackson, Weiss, Lundquist, and Hooper (2003) examine the degree to which cognitive motivation predicts academic performance. They point out that increased school activity may assist motivation. Paul and White (1990) examined extracurricular activity participation and academic achievement in a senior high school setting. They found that extracurricular activities and academic performance were highly correlated. They supported the hypothesis stated by Mynell (2004) more involvement in school activities means a better grade point average.

Student Cults

Student cults may have a pronounced effect on the academic performances in institutions of higher education. A cult is an association like every other, with hierarchy, ranks, a governing body, and a head or leader, but it is secretive in its activities. Its members may be students who seek initiation, with others who are influenced or even coerced into becoming members. A member of a student cult is expected to place members' interest over any others'. Students cannot strike a balance between the cult and academic performance. Members may be usually enticed with benefits, including:

* Payment of school fees

* Protection from aggression

* Popularity and admiration

* Good grades while in school

Unfortunately, most of these promised privileges will never come their way, and students are been left alone to cope with demands such as:

* Lecture times...

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