Via The Daily Beast:
A study presented this week found that, next to time spent studying outside the classroom, time spent drinking was the most reliable predictor of a student’s grade point average. Todd Wyatt, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, looked at how today’s busy college students allocate their time between different activities. The research surveyed about 13,900 incoming freshman at 167 schools, and found that certain activities could reliably predict academic success. He performed the study along with his colleague Bill DeJong and presented it this week at the American College Personnel Association conference.
Wyatt found that, after time spent studying, the amount of time a student spent drinking was the strongest predictor of that student’s GPA – even more so than time spent in the classroom. “The more time spent partying with alcohol, there’s a significant decrease in GPA,” said Wyatt. This was true even though various other non-studious activities, like wiling away hours on Facebook, had virtually no effect on grades.
The study’s findings hold true even when narrowed to include only elite schools – big-name universities where students are famous for studying hard and partying hard. The researchers replicated the overall population investigation at specific schools where students have an above-average GPAs and also reported above-average alcohol consumption. The result: drinking affects these kids’ grades, too. “These students might not be reaching their full potential as a result of the alcohol consumption,” says Wyatt. “Their grades are high, but they could be even higher.”
Although my headline is snarky, I actually think this research is very valuable, and Todd Wyatt is to be congratulated for undertaking this study. Quantifying common wisdom is a way of pushing it to the fore. The more our students understand this, and the more they get that their college grades are in fact part of a their permanent record, the better.
Does anyone look back on their college years and wish they had engaged in more drinking? For more than a decade, I’ve heard from current college students that the reason they “party hard” now is that they think that after graduation, their access to friendship and alcohol will suddenly dry up, and they’ll never have fun again. (I’ve written here about what an impoverished view of adulthood this is, and how it saddens me. Is it just the narciscissm of youth and the students’ inability to more creatively imagine what they might be like as adults, or is evidence of the absence of meaningful inner lives among most American adults?)
What are your post-collegiate regrets, and what role (if any) does alcohol play in them?