College and Drinking

Problems with drinking vary from student to student as well as from campus to campus. This article provides college drinking statistics and information about how to drink responsibly.

College Drinking Statistics (18 to 24 Year Olds)

  • 54 percent of binge drinking college students black out and forget what they did or where they were at some point in the year. For students who don't binge drink, the number was 25 percent.
  • 48 percent of the alcohol consumed at a 4 year college is consumed by an underage student.
  • 44 percent of students report symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependency
  • 25 percent of students say they have faced academic consequences (missing class, getting a bad grade, etc.) as a result of drinking.
  • On average, students who have more than 5 drinks per occasion have a GPA that is half a grade lower than the GPA for other students.


It is somewhat difficult to really tell how serious a problem drinking is on college campuses because studies rely on surveys, which can be inaccurate. According to Christian Science Monitor, surveys suggest that 4 out of 5 college students drink, and that half of those who drink regularly engage in binge drinking. This statistic probably varies from campus to campus. Sometimes colleges who are known as 'party schools' have more problems with 'binge drinking'.

Top 5 Party Schools

Ranking School
1 West Virginia University
2 University of Mississippi
3 UT- Austin
4 University of Florida
5 University of Georgia

Source: The Princeton Review

In the 2008 edition of The Best 366 Colleges, The Princeton Review published their annual list of the Top 20 Party Schools. For the past 15 years, West Virginia University has made that list, but this is the first time the school has taken the number one title. Ironically (or perhaps not ironically) West Virginia University also received the number one ranking in another category in the book: 'Their Students (Almost) Never Study'.

Drink Proportions

Other than the differences between campuses, how college students measure the proportions of alcoholic drinks makes it hard to tell what kinds of drinking habits are dominant on campuses. According to a study published in the April 2005 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, when researchers asked students to pour drinks of different types, they tended to over-pour. It might be helpful if kids learned the right serving amounts for different types of alcohol. Here is a list of measurements for one serving for the different types of alcoholic beverages:

  • 12 oz of 5 percent Beer
  • 5 oz of 12 percent Wine
  • 1.5 oz of 40 percent Distilled Spirits

Social Drinking

While considering all these statistics and reports, the truth is most students find themselves with other students who are drinking. It's important to be able to distinguish between responsible social drinking and binge drinking. Binge drinking basically involves consuming so much alcohol that a student becomes completely intoxicated. On the other hand, social drinking involves having a drink or a number of drinks without becoming completely incoherent or unreasonable.

Social drinking may help one relax after a rough week at school, but binge drinking is much more severe. The effects of binge drinking vary from impairing a student's ability to think abstractly for about 30 days to engaging in sexual activities without taking any precautions. Any of the consequences can affect an academic career as well as the rest of one's life.

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