Going to college is a big transition, for students and parents. It offers students greater freedoms, challenges and choices. One of those choices is whether to drink alcohol. And while the majority of high school seniors say they’ve used alcohol, the pressure to misuse it can intensify when a student starts college and interacts with new peers.
To help parents better understand the issues and challenges students face, the University of Minnesota has developed an online seminar that addresses alcohol use and binge drinking during the college years.
“The purpose is to give parents information about what typically happens at college.”
That’s Marjorie Savage, Parent Program director at the University of Minnesota. She helped to develop the online parent seminar.
“There’s a perception of college drinking as completely out of control and what possible reason can there be for students to react the way they do to the freedoms that come with college. We often get parents and community members saying, ‘what is the University going to do about college drinking?’ And the truth is, we have done just about all of the things we can come up with, and it’s not strictly a campus issue, it is a community issue and a social issue. We can’t take care of it all by ourselves, there’s just too many impacts from all over, that affect the prevalence of alcohol on campus. So we do need the help of community members and families, and the places where students come from. Parents have an impact and we need their help with this.”
Savage says that parental involvement does make a difference.
“What we have found is that there are some typical risk-taking behaviors that students simply go through as part of their growth process and decision making process, and even though there’s reason to be concerned about some of those decisions, they actually do think through what they’re going to do and why they’re doing it. There is some thought behind it. When students know that their parents don’t approve of excessive drinking, that can have more effect than peer pressure.”
The seminar takes a few hours to go through, but Savage says that early assessments are showing positive results.
“If the parents go through the class, the student is less like to have as many episodes of drinking and they’re less likely to have as many consequences from drinking.”