College is one of life’s most amazing experiences, full of discovery about oneself and the world, the development of lifelong relationships, and the many rewards of achievement and personal growth.
But succeeding in college today requires more than good grades. According to research summarized in a College Task Force report to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents realize. And these consequences affect students whether or not they drink. Consider the fact that one in four college students fails to complete the first year, and only two of the three remaining students actually graduate.
Since a college education for your children will be one of the largest financial investments your family will undertake, comprehensive research of prospective colleges is critical in determining how the campus culture could impact your child’s health, safety, and academic success.
There is plenty about college drinking that must be confronted. Researchers have documented in recent years that students who engage in binge drinking are far more likely to miss classes, injure themselves, damage property, engage in unprotected sex, and get in trouble with the police. And non-drinkers suffer, too, reporting a higher incidence of second-hand binge effects such as assault, unwanted sexual advances, interrupted study or sleep, and damaged property. A campus with a high-risk drinking atmosphere can have a direct influence on the drinking choices of new students and a dramatic negative impact on a student’s college experience. And students who attend campuses where there is heavy drinking will more than likely be impacted by the heavy drinking of other students.
But parents can take a proactive approach and provide the support and coping skills needed to succeed - even before these young adults set foot on campus. An ongoing dialogue, including accurate information and clear expectations, will provide your teen with the support and guidance necessary for facing the challenges of college drinking.