The Skill To Defend You

Why does college have such a heavy drinking culture?

Your son or daughter heads to college, and you cannot help but think about your own time there, decades before. You also consider the stories coming out of local college towns every year: Stories about partying, drinking and getting chased by the police.

It feels like a rite of passage in American colleges. Students just love drinking, and they often do it to excess. This leads to all manner of issues, from MIPs to DUIs.

What you begin wondering, while hoping your own child will not get caught up in the hype, is why college kids choose to consume so much alcohol. College is supposed to be an institution of higher learning. It is supposed to be a place for the brightest minds in the country to gather and learn about history, science and culture. Rather than getting stereotyped as people who spend all day in the library, why do college kids get stereotyped as reckless heavy drinkers?

Social lubricants

According to college students themselves, one of the main reasons is that they use drinking as an icebreaker to talk to people they do not know. A full 74.4 percent of those asked said it could “break the ice,” and the exact same percentage said it “enhanced social activity.” In short, it allows them to relax and have fun, which is what they believe college is all about.


Boredom may also play a role. A full 71.7 percent said that drinking gave people “something to do” and 66.6 percent said that it gave them “something to talk about. They do not need activities on the weekends. Partying is the activity that a lot of students find themselves drawn to. It gives them a break from working and going to class.

Group decisions

Another common theme researchers found was that college students consumed alcohol mostly in group settings, and multiple people may get involved in choosing how much to drink. Peer pressure could play a role. While an adult at home probably isn’t going to do shots alone, for instance, a college student at a party may take drink after drink when that’s what the group decides to do.

They like the risk

Oddly, the risk of things going wrong could also contribute. Students like to help one another in a time of crisis. They get to do that when they have to help a drunk friend get home, for instance. They may also like telling the stories later, almost as a point of pride. No one wants to get arrested, but many students want to have stories about the police breaking up a party they attended.

Your options

If your child does get arrested and you worry about their future, make sure you understand all of the legal options you have.