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Volunteerism, Alcohol Beliefs, and First Year College Students Drinking Behaviors

Previous research on first year college students has shown that they often participate in risky drinking behaviors, especially if they believe that doing so is an important part of the college experience. A recent study looked at volunteering among this group of students which typically has few obligations outside of college. The goal was to see if participating in volunteerism impacted levels of alcohol consumption.

In this study, a survey was given to 423 first year students upon arrival to college, and again at the end of their first semester. This survey collected data to measure each participants’ volunteer activity, beliefs about alcohol and the college experience, and individuals’ drinking behavior.

The results of these surveys indicated that as expected, those who volunteered were less likely to use alcohol as frequently and binge drink as much as peers who did not. Even within the group of students who reported that alcohol is an integral part to the college experience, this effect was seen. This study shows the impact of involvement for first year students and suggests that those who plan to engage in heavy drinking as a part of the college experience may be helped by committing to volunteer before their drinking behavior may evolve to be more risky or cause negative consequences.

Take Away: first year college students who volunteer are less likely to use alcohol as frequently or in as high of quantity compared to peers who do not volunteer, even if they believe that alcohol is an important part of the college experience.

Crawford, L.A., Novak, K.B., Jayaskare, R.R. (2019). Volunteerism, Alcohol Beliefs, and First-Year College Students’ Drinking Behaviors: Implications for Prevention. The Journal of Primary Prevention.

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