The use of alcohol on college campuses is something that has been going on for a great number of years. Most people that are attending or have attended a college encountered alcohol at some point in their experience. Whether an individual personally experiments with alcohol or knows somebody who does, alcohol will affect most students in some way.
College is a new way of life that people figure out as they experience it. Many students leave the safety and security of home, as well as the rules of home. Students have a newfound freedom to make choices that may not have been available before. Students are also exposed to a lot of new people, meet new friends and try new things. The lifestyle on a college campus is something that requires some adaptation in many cases. It is a time for a lot of personal exploration and discovery. Campus life opens up a lot of new doors and a lot of students are curious to see what is behind those doors. The problem that is waiting for many is alcohol, and more importantly, alcohol abuse.
Every year in the United States 1,825 college students, ages 18-24 die from alcohol-related injuries. This statistic includes car accidents. Nearly 600,000 students ages 18-24 will sustain some sort of injury due to alcohol-related accidents. 97,000 students ages 18-24 will become the victims of sexual assault in alcohol-related incidents. Driving under the influence of alcohol is very common among college students ages 18-24. 3,360,000 students admitted to operating a motor vehicle under the influence. These statistics are according to a July 2010 study conducted by collegedrinkingprevention.com.
Another important issue that alcohol has serious effects on is academic performance. About 25 percent of college students report some sort of consequence in their studies due to drinking. Factors include missing class, falling behind, turning in below average work, or receiving low scores on tests. Students may attend a class drunk or hung over and unable to focus on the learning in front of them. Drinking is the number one cause of missed classes.
Chris Turtle, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, is currently a college student at the University of Utah. Turtle attended Salt Lake Community College from 2001-2009. Turtle admits that his education has suffered because of his alcohol abuse. This unfortunately is a tale that is too common within the college culture.
“I have been going to school off and on for about nine years. When I was younger I had misplaced priorities. You stay out too late and you’re not able to get up for class or you’re hung-over, you’re just not motivated to go. When I was 18 and 19 I would miss a minimum of one day a week, sometimes as many as two or three,” he said.
Turtle would go out with his friends and get drunk. The following day he could find any number of ways to justify missing school. Turtle developed some bad habits and his commitment to college education took a back seat to drinking.
“I developed some bad habits, not really studying and not really caring about school. [Alcohol] really contributed a lot. It’s definitely prolonged my college by a few years. I think if I would have just been focused on school it probably would have taken me about six years to get through college. Now it’s going to take me probably like 10 [years].”
The impact of college drinking is really all about each individual. Many students drink in moderation and don’t suffer any of the negative side effects of alcohol. Only 6 percent of college students ages 18-24 met the criteria for alcohol dependence, according to collegedrinkingprevention.com. According to a study conducted by Villanova University, nearly 80 percent of college students in the United States use alcohol, but over 70 percent drink fewer than five drinks. Five drinks or fewer is considered “safe” consumption.
The most important thing is for students to become informed. Individuals are entitled to drink; it’s a personal choice. If a problem develops then it is important that a person knows how to recognize it and how to go about getting help for it. A large number of colleges and universities are currently pushing alcohol and drug awareness programs. The purpose of these programs is to give students an education about the choices they are faced with and the decisions they make.
If you or somebody you know seems to have a problem with alcohol, there are plenty of resources out there dedicated to treating alcohol abuse. SLCC offers counseling for students through the Health and Wellness Center. Students may contact the Health and Wellness Center at 801-957-4268, or by visiting room STC-035 at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Another option for students is the Student Health Clinic. Their phone number is 801-957-4347 and they are also located on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus in room STC-048.