Article: Does Collegiate Drinking Affect Graduate School?

Hannah Allen, Ph.D.October 10, 2019:

The high prevalence of heavy drinking among college students is widely known. Less clearly understood is how problematic alcohol use during college might be linked to post-college educational goals and attainment. In a recent article in the Journal of American College Health, Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) Postdoctoral Fellow Hannah Allen and a team of researchers from the University of Maryland examined the prospective relationship between alcohol abuse and dependence during college and graduate school plans and subsequent enrollment. They found that heavy drinking during college might impact graduate school enrollment and concluded that early intervention efforts could potentially help students achieve their educational goals.

The authors examined a sample of 980 students who participated in the College Life Study and graduated college within five years. Alcohol use was assessed throughout college, and participants indicated in their final year of college whether they had plans to attend graduate school. Enrollment in graduate school was assessed after college graduation, and all analyses controlled for demographic characteristics and college grade point average.

The authors found that college students meeting criteria for alcohol dependence were less likely to have plans to attend graduate school. Additionally, among those with plans to attend graduate school, both alcohol abuse and dependence during college were associated with decreased likelihood of actually following through on these plans and enrolling in graduate school after college. These findings support prior research studies that have found a negative association between problematic drinking in college and academic achievement.

Hannah, who performed the analyses in the study, explained the importance of studying graduate school enrollment as an academic outcome. “More and more young adults are choosing graduate school as a next step after college graduation. With an increasing number of career paths requiring a graduate degree, it is vital that we understand how substance use during college might interfere with students’ ability to meet their educational and career goals.”

Hannah continued, “Universities have a unique opportunity to intervene with students who are engaging in problematic alcohol use during college. Through a joint effort between academic advisors, career counselors, and campus health professionals, college students with graduate school aspirations should be made aware of the potential link between their current alcohol use and their health and success both during and after college graduation.”

Read the article. (Journal access required.)

Reference

Arria, A. M., Allen, H. K., Caldeira, K. M., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2019). Excessive drinking and drug use during college: Prospective associations with graduate school plans and attendance. Journal of American College Health, 1-7. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1535494

 

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