Eight tips for parents from College Parents of America and MADD:
- Set clear, realistic expectations for academic performance. If students know parents expect sound academic work, they’re likely to be more devoted to studies and have less time to get in trouble with alcohol. Studies show that partying may contribute as much to a student’s decline in grades as the difficulty of the academic work.
- Stress that alcohol consumption is illegal for people under 21, and excessive consumption can be toxic and even fatal. Students die every year from alcohol poisoning. Tell your children not to drink if they are under 21. For students of legal age, discourage dangerous drinking, e.g., drinking games, hazing, etc. Ask students to intervene when they see someone participating in dangerous drinking.
- Tell students to intervene when classmates are in trouble with alcohol. Nothing is more tragic than an unconscious student left to die while others either fail to recognize that the student is in jeopardy or fail to call for help due to fear of getting the student in trouble.
- Tell students to stand up for their right to a safe academic environment. Students who don’t drink can be affected by those who, ranging from interrupted study time to assault or unwanted sexual advances. Students can confront these problems by discussing them with offenders. If that fails, they should notify their residential life manager, other residence hall staff, or other campus resources.
- Know the alcohol scene on campus and talk to students about it. Students grossly exaggerate the use of alcohol and other drugs by peers. A recent survey found that University of Oregon students believed 96 percent of their peers drank at least once a week, when the actual rate was 52 percent. Peer-influenced students tend to “drink up” to the perceived norm, so it’s important to clear up misperceptions.
- Avoid tales of drinking exploits from your own college years. Entertaining students with stories of drinking back in “the good old days” appears to give parental approval to dangerous and, for people under 21, illegal alcohol consumption.
- Encourage students to volunteer and get involved. Volunteerism helps students develop jobs skills and experience. Helping others gives students a broader outlook and healthier perspective. Volunteer work on campus as well as involvement in student organizations helps students connect with their school, increasing the likelihood of staying in college.
- Make it clear — Underage alcohol consumption and driving after drinking are against the law. Parents should make it clear that they don’t condone lawbreaking. Parents should openly and clearly express disapproval of underage drinking and dangerous alcohol consumption.
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