My daughter keeps talking about joining a sorority when she goes to college. I have heard they are great for connecting with the social life on campus. But I have also heard real horror stories about them. What do you think?
My son says there’s nothing to do at college and that is why he drinks. Don’t colleges have activities for students to help keep them busy?
The college I will be going to is in the middle of nowhere. I chose it because it has the exact major I am looking for. But I am concerned about the social life. It seems like there is nothing else to do but drink. What can I do to avoid that typical college drinking trap?
How do I make new friends in college? I will be traveling almost across the country to my new campus and won’t know anyone there.
On most campuses, even the smaller ones, there are numerous organizations that host myriad campus events outside of the classroom. Encourage your student to get involved in campus activities beyond the scope of their academics.
Clubs and Special Interest Groups
In addition to structuring free time, involvement in outside activities provides students with opportunities to develop leadership and job-related skills and to gain valuable experience. Some of the possibilities include:
sports and fitness
and on and on!
Parents should also suggest to their students that they volunteer for community service. Volunteerism helps students develop job skills and experience. Volunteer work on campus as well as involvement in student organizations helps students connect with their school, increasing the likelihood of staying in college.
However, also keep in mind that some studies of college students have indicated that students who are more social, who date more, and who are more involved in campus organizations may drink more, which should be discussed with your student.
Greek life can provide wonderful opportunities for camaraderie, community service, leadership development, academic support, and socialization. It can also be a high-risk environment for alcohol problems. If your son or daughter is interested in participating in Greek life, discuss with him or her how membership could impact other campus commitments.
When visiting, ask administrators and students about the role of Greek life on. If there are Greeks on campus, the presence of a full-time Greek Life Coordinator is an indication that the college takes Greek life seriously and is concerned about the welfare of not only the Greeks, but the rest of the campus as well.
Also check to see if Greek chapters are local or national. Campus chapters of national fraternities are affiliated with a centralized national office, while local chapters may have only regional affiliation, if any at all. The national office monitors the conduct of the campus chapters as they attempt to ensure that all chapters are following the organization’s rules and regulations. There tends to be no oversight of local chapters except by campus officials. Check with the Key Personnel about the pros and cons of their nationals and locals on the campus.
Due to pressures from campus administrators, many fraternities and sororities have addressed the issue of hazing. As a result, many organizations have been successful in eradicating this process. Others still conduct this dangerous and sometimes deadly practice. Whether it's a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, or simply a circle of friends, parents should assure their children that they don't need to prove their worth to the organization by drinking dangerously.
There was a time, though it seems like generations ago, that participation in sports insulated most athletes from problems with alcohol. These days, participation in interscholastic sports places college athletes at a higher risk for alcohol problems than non-athletes. To confront these problems, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and other college sports governing bodies have developed special alcohol education programs for student athletes. Although these programs have met with limited success, they are promising. One such program is the NCAA Champs Life Skills Program. The presence of a Champs program on a campus is an indication that the Department of Athletics is concerned about the health and well-being of its student athletes and is willing to go the extra mile to support them.
Athletics – both participation and viewing – can provide a great escape from the day-to-day stress of college life. It is interesting to note that to enhance the athletic experience for athletes and fans alike, and to minimize alcohol’s impact on that experience, many college athletic departments are now refusing advertising dollars from alcohol distributors.
Discuss with your son or daughter the unique pressures and nuances of “celebration drinking” at special events – birthdays (especially twenty-first birthdays), tailgating before a sporting event, fraternity or sorority parties celebrating a school event, or even weddings – where students may get caught up in the occasion and drink more than they planned or realized. Even people who usually abstain from alcohol may decide or be pressured to drink on these occasions. Celebration events often involve hard liquor, peer pressure, and intense emotions that can cloud a person’s ability to make healthy decisions.
It’s important for you to let your children know that though these pressures and situations may occur, they have your support and that you trust them to make healthy decisions. Calling your children before a celebration event to let them know that you care about their behavior can help them make responsible choices.