Drinking An Important Predictor of GPA

College freshmen usually step on to campus for the first time with the expectation that their new endeavor will be a greater academic challenge than that of their high school experience. The fear of new demands motivates students to diligently hit the books; at first. Recent studies evaluating how college students spend their time demonstrate decreased time studying and explore how varying activities affect grade point averages.

Working, volunteering, student clubs, Facebook, and watching TV are all activities that distract students from studying; but nothing indicates grade point average more accurately than alcohol consumption. The evidence was found through a survey administered by Outside the Classroom, a company addressing health and wellness issues affecting college students.

Tom Wyatt, director of research, intended to continue research where most journals stop. It’s not a surprise that college students get distracted or that they drink, but the relationship between the two is what Wyatt found interesting.

Nearly 13,900 incoming freshmen were surveyed about their daily activities and the time they dedicate to studying. Wyatt found that college students who volunteer or participate in extracurricular activities have fewer negative consequences from drinking than students who drink and do not volunteer or participate in extracurricular activities. This finding indicates that “They’re not drinking less, they’re just drinking smarter,” Wyatt told USA TODAY.

Studying has been on the decline for years. In 1960, the average college student studied for about 24 hours per week. The steady decrease leaves the current college student studying for about 11 hours per week. The time students spend studying now does not match academic expectations. For each course credit, it is expected that a student studies about 3 hours outside of the classroom. For a full 15 credit load, that’s 15 hours in class and 45 hours recommended study time. The 60 hours that students are expected to be spending on course work simply just isn’t happening for the majority of students.

While most studies evaluate how spare time affects student success, Outside the Classroom has found that when drinking is a central “spare time activity” students experience more negative academic consequences. Colleges encouraging tutoring and offering extra resources to students have been successful in decreasing student drinking and increasing grade point averages. Wyatt confirms the bottom line to success as “…studying hard and staying off the bottle, that’s it.”

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