Alcohol & academia How drinking negatively affects college learning experiences

BY ANDREW BENNEY

A night out on the town, some (or many) drinks with friends and a hangover the next day are things post-secondary students come to accept as part of their lives. In fact, we embrace this drunken culture in its entirety, while even shunning or looking down on those who choose not to participate in the detrimental process of constant alcohol consumption. We do this despite the common knowledge that drinking not only hurts our ability to learn and become educated, but also hurts the wallet - a problem which, not coincidentally, college students always seem to struggle with.

Drinking itself is not the main issue, everyone needs time to relieve stress, meet new people or just go out and have fun in general. But the unquestioned dominance that alcohol retains in post-secondary societies should be changed. Trying to get people to drink is not where the focus should be when running a higher-education institution. That focus should be on providing quality learning experiences for people who pay more than good money to be there.

For many people just finishing high school, alcohol will have just been legally brought into their lives. Then, as soon as this happens, they enter a place where the message “DRINK MORE” pretty much buffets you in the face while slamming a pint down your throat. We really expect students to be successful in that kind of setting?

By embracing, fostering and exploiting this dominant attitude through school bars, pub nights, advertisements and etcetera, colleges encourage a mindset which is set more on the upcoming party or night at a club, than it is proper schooling.

Not to say a college or university can’t successfully run both successfully academically and entertainingly for some, it is entirely possible for some attendees it works. But the bottom line is that colleges and universities are supposed to make learning possible for everyone and not all students have the work ethic or ability to prioritize education over fun when the environment they are surrounded by promotes the latter.

Every student ever at some point ^

According to a study done by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2013; “Most students, 74 per cent, consumed alcohol at least once a week, and only three per cent reported no alcohol consumption.”

It is apparent that we don’t need any extra help in terms of drinking, so colleges and universities need to begin to understand that, although we may never ask for it openly, students need a new and better situation to receive our education in.

This ‘work hard - play hard’ mentality, which has become so overbearing, simply does not cut it for everyone. Post-secondary institutions need to change their methods and begin a fresh, positive focus on the real reason they exist: learning. If not, students potential will continue to be hindered and quashed, while bringing our bank account balance right down with it.

(The views expressed above do not represent the opinion of the author — written for academic purposes. 'Cause honestly who wants schools to not have drinking.)

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