College Doesn’t Cause Problem Drinking, Says Study Done By College Professors

college drinking doesn't lead to drinking problems

If you go to college, you won’t increase your odds of ending up with a drinking problem. And, if people who didn’t normally go to college did, then they probably wouldn’t drink as much. That’s the conclusion of a study published in the March Structural Equation Modeling that was performed by … wait for it … a team of college professors associated with Penn State University.

The researchers reviewed data collected from almost 1,100 high school seniors who participated in the National Longitudinal Youth Survey in 1979. They were surveyed again during their first year in college in 1980. Then, in 1994, at age 33, they were surveyed a third time, this time specifically about their smoking, drug, and alcohol habits.

Now, I’m not saying that the team spent a lot of time sampling the product between 1994 and 2013, but did anyone else notice that there’s almost a two decade gap here between collecting the data and publishing the results? Stephanie Lanza, a health and human development professor who worked on the survey, said that, since they couldn’t just randomly assign people to go or not to go to college, they had to “apply our statistical techniques to balance the data. After doing that, we found that college enrollment does not protect against problem drinking, nor does it place individuals at risk for future problem drinking.”

Um, good, I guess.

However, despite the party atmosphere and the upcoming spring break season, maybe the professors know something I don’t. UCLA published a report in January that stated that drinking among college freshmen was at an all-time low. They said that only 33 percent of freshman drank beer in 2012 compared to 74 percent in 1982.

Well, I say that about 100 percent of college students drank beer in 1982, but I guess that’s why I’m not a professor of health and human development.


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism said that 80 percent of college students drink, which I suspect is a far more realistic figure.

All kidding aside, here’s the takeaway from the new study: If you have a drinking problem, it wasn’t caused by college.