Trends in alcohol consumption among college students are quite different from those of high school seniors. However, according to the Monitoring the Future Study, occasions of heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) among college and high school seniors decreased from 2012 to 2013. The overall trend in heavy drinking among college students continues to show a decline in consumption, decreasing 20 percentage points (44% to 35%) since 1980 compared to a 46 percentage point decline in the rate of heavy drinking among high school seniors (41% to 22%) during this same time period.
Overall, the prevalence of college drinking over the past two decades, measured as lifetime, annual, and past 30-day consumption rates have all declined. Since 1991, lifetime consumption among college students has declined 17% proportionately, while annual consumption and monthly consumption are down 14% and 16%, respectively. While trends in college drinking have remained relatively unchanged, Monitoring the Future survey results revealed a statistically significant decrease in annual and monthly consumption rates from 2012 to 2013 among college students, reaching historic low levels.
There have generally been substantial gender differences in alcohol consumption among college students, with college males drinking more than their female peers. However, over time this gender variance has narrowed. In 2013, four out of ten college males (43%) reported consuming five or more drinks in a row during the previous two weeks compared to three out of ten college females (30%). From 2012 to 2013, binge drinking among male college students increased slightly (the first increase in over five years) while binge drinking among female college students decreased.
(Source: University of Michigan, Monitoring the Future, 1975-2013: Volume II, College Students and Adults Ages 19-50, 2014)