College students might not drink as much as is commonly believed, according to a report by Outside the Classroom, the organization that created AlcoholEdu.
Outside the Classroom created a survey polling approximately one-third of the total freshmen entering colleges and four-year universities since 2006. The results showed there has be an increase in the number of incoming freshmen who abstain from alcohol.
The number of students rose from 38 percent in 2006 to 62 percent in 2010.
USC freshmen are no exception to this growing trend. USC’s AlcoholEdu report shows that 53 percent of incoming freshmen in 2006 abstained from alcohol, while 61 percent of the 2010 freshman class identified themselves as abstainers before the start of the fall semester.
Brandon Busteed, CEO of Outside the Classroom, said this recent trend might have to do with the economic downturn. Busteed told USA Today the reason the percentage of teetotalers has increased is because students are taking their education more seriously to position themselves to compete in the job market and secure their financial futures.
“A lot of young adults realize that the quickest thing you can do to destroy a job interview is to go in all shiny and polished up, and then they check Facebook and there they are at a keg stand,” Busteed said.
Last year, an AlcoholEdu report found that 46 percent of students choose to abstain from alcohol because they don’t want to spend their money on buying it.
“Everything is going up,” said Joy Phan, a freshman majoring in music. “Meal plans and housing is going up, and there’s so many other things to spend money on as a student.”
Some freshmen at USC have noticed a change in the behavior of their friends, saying that students are more commonly choosing schoolwork over social events.
“My friends seem a lot more focused on doing well in school rather than partying or drinking,” said Naren Sahai, a freshman majoring in environmental engineering. “I think this has to do with doing better so that we can get better jobs and compete in this economy.”
Still, though 62 percent of this year’s incoming freshman class did not drink alcohol before coming to college, AlcoholEdu’s mid-semester survey reports that only 48 percent of students continue to classify themselves as abstainers.
AlcoholEdu has deemed this drop the “college effect,” and it occurs all around the country, according to Paula Swinford, director of Health Promotion and Prevention Services.
“Part of the culture of college is engaging in high-risk drinking,” Swinford said. “Part of the challenge is that there continues to be a huge marketing campaign to encourage consumption of alcohol.”
Despite the data on drinking rates, the Dept. of Public Safety has seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related cases it’s received since 2007.
In 2009, there were 107 transports, and DPS is expecting an even higher number this year.
Of particular concern to DPS Capt. David Carlisle is the number of medical transports.
“Last semester we had a concern about the number of students who had to be hospitalized because of toxic alcohol levels. The number was unusually high,” Carlisle said. “It’s difficult for me to tie alcohol consumption to the economy, looking at the number of alcohol related incidents.”