At The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, we know that the transition from high school seniors to college freshmen can be quite challenging. Among other things, they will face a lot of pressure and as future freshmen students, they will try hard to fit into their new surroundings. This can lead to making risky decisions such as engaging in high-risk drinking on campus. We strongly support the minimum drinking age law, and we have worked across the nation to restrict access to alcohol for those under the age of 21. However, we are also realistic about the situation on the ground in colleges across the US.
We have been assisting college campuses for 18 years in addressing the issue of high risk drinking on campuses. We also know that in order to reach incoming freshmen students and influence their attitude and behavior toward drinking in college, we need to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes all stakeholders, especially parents.
In yesterday’s SFGate issue, Kathryn Roethel wrote an article about how talking to high school seniors about alcohol in the summer before college improves the students’ drinking habits when they reach college. We agree that conversation regarding underage drinking and high-risk drinking is imperative. In fact, our Parents: You’re Not Done Yet brochure gives parents the tools they need to talk to their college-bound teens about alcohol. In addition to students falling behind in classes, high-risk drinking can lead to physical injuries, violent behavior, unsafe sexual practices and much more. Parents need to highlight these issues and explain to them that having fun in college does not mean dangerous over consumption of alcohol.
College life can be quite stressful. It will also bring along lots of great opportunities and experiences. Make sure you continue to have honest and meaningful conversations with your college freshmen. Remind them that they have an alternative and that they don’t need to engage in risky behavior to make college memorable.