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Just For Parents

What’s the truth about college drinking?


At UMass Amherst, most students drink moderately, if they choose to drink at all; two-thirds have four or fewer drinks when they party.

Unfortunately, glamorized college drinking stories persist, passed on from older peers, parents and society. Students come to believe high-risk drinking is the norm and that alcohol abuse is tolerated, leading to higher levels of drinking as they try to live up to falsehoods.

For those who occasionally or routinely engage in heavy episodic drinking (five drinks in a row for men; four in a row for women), the consequences are real, and include:

  • missed classes;
  • poor academic performance;
  • injury;
  • regretted actions;
  • unplanned or unprotected sexual activity;
  • hangover;
  • arguments;
  • vandalism; and
  • violence.

What you can do

  • Know UMass Amherst’s alcohol and drug policies, including the Code of Student Conduct and discuss your expectations with your student.

  • Check out myStudentBody, the online course required for all first-year students. The site has lots of good information about alcohol and other drug use. Remind your student that if they don’t take and pass the course by the deadline, they won’t be able to register for classes.

  • Ask questions about their alcohol use.

  • Let them know about BASICS and the program's confidential assessments.

  • Remind them that, on average, GPA goes down as drinking goes up.

  • Set high academic standards, including Friday classes. Students tend to drink more if they have a three- or four-day weekend.

  • Encourage involvement. Too much free time can lead to boredom and drinking can become a hobby.

  • Don’t buy alcohol for your student or send them to school with it.

  • Visit their dorm room and check out their surroundings.

  • Avoid glamorizing your own drinking.