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High-risk alcohol use behavior and daily academic effort among college student

College students report some of the highest occasions of heavy drinking making it a continual public health concern. There are also concerns about how this drinking effects academic performance. This study looks at alcohol use and student’s likelihood of participating in academic behaviors such as skipping class and completing homework.

The study took data from the University Life Study (ULS) which included participants from a large, public Northeastern university. Throughout this study, 744 students completed 14 daily surveys within their first 3.5 years of college. Alcohol use was assessed by participants indicating how many standard alcoholic drinks they had consumed the previous day. This included no alcohol use, moderate use, heavy episodic drinking, and high-intensity drinking. Academic behaviors were assessed by asking students if they attended all their classes along with how much time they spent on schoolwork that day.

Overall, participants reported skipping class 19% of the time during the week and spent 3.6 hours on homework per weekday. Sunday through Thursday 94% of students reported no alcohol use. Friday through Sunday they reported no alcohol use 69%, moderate drinking 9%, heavy episodic drinking 13% and high-intensity drinking 8% of the days. Students were 1.5 times more likely to skip class after a heavy episodic drinking event on the previous day when compared to moderate drinking days. They were almost two times as likely to skip after a previous day of high-intensity drinking. It was also found they spent less time on homework after a day of either heavy episodic drinking or high-intensity drinking. These findings suggest that heavy drinking is associated with a lower level of academic effort among college students and there may be a need for interventions to target this heavy alcohol use.

Take Away: The current study looks at alcohol use and student’s likelihood of academic behaviors such as skipping class and time spent on homework. The study included 14 daily surveys within 744 college students first 3.5 years of college. Alcohol use was categorized into no alcohol use, moderate use, heavy episodic drinking, and high-intensity drinking. Academic behaviors were assessed by asking students if they attended all their classes along with how much time they spent on schoolwork that day. Overall, students that had participated in heavy episodic drinking of high-intensity drinking were at least 1.5 times as likely to skip class and also spent less time working on schoolwork the next day. These findings suggest that heavy drinking is associated with a lower level of academic effort among college students.

Allen, H. K., Calhoun, B. H., & Maggs, J. L. (2020). High-risk alcohol use behavior and daily academic effort among college students. Journal of American College Health, 1-5. doi:10.1080/07448481.2020.1752697

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