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Wasted Youth: College Freshmen Tell ALL

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Parents, listen up.

When we embarked on our "Wasted Youth" investigation, we expected to find kids partying on weekends and occasionally missing classes. What we actually found was much more disturbing -- freshmen partying until they pass out, kids having sex with numerous partners, and others getting so wasted that they had to be rushed to the hospital.

teenagers drinking

We surveyed over 2,500 freshmen from all over the nation to see if this was the norm. Sadly not only is it the norm, it's way worse than we ever suspected. Here are some of the most shocking things that we found:

57% of freshmen drank before college and 68% drink now that they are in college
• 21% drink 3 or more days a week
• 26% drink on weekends only
• 34% drink enough to get buzzed and then stop
• 35% drink until they are very drunk
• 37% drink until they're very drunk, throw up, or pass out

Since being in college:

• 36% of kids have thrown up from drinking too much
• 32% of kids have not remembered the night before
• 26% of kids have passed out from drinking too much
• 32% have hooked up with or had sex with someone they regret
• 13% have woken up somewhere and not know how they got there

49% of freshmen whose parents are paying for school DO NOT feel an obligation to NOT party and focus on school

50% of freshmen say that their parents DID NOT talk to them about partying before they left for school

48% of freshmen say their parents WOULD NOT approve of their behavior, while 50% say their parents WOULD approve

56% of freshmen say they know someone who has ended up in the hospital because of partying

38% of freshmen admit to having sex with one or more people since arriving at school

  • 17% say they've had a "booty call"
  • 22% say they've had sex while drunk
  • 11% of students say they have felt pressure to have sex with someone they didn't want to
  • 61% of freshmen plan on continuing partying after college graduation

Here are the rest of our 2008 College Freshmen Survey results:

65% of students go to schools that cost $15,000 or more

71% of parents pay for half or all of the college tuition
• 42% of parents had the money to pay for college
• 18% of parents took out a loan to pay for college

40% of freshmen did drugs before college
• 40% smoked pot
• 11% took prescription drugs
• 8% took ADD/ADHD medicine
• 6% did cocaine

Since being in college, 31% of freshmen have tried drugs
• 32% smoked pot
• 6% took prescription drugs
• 6% took ADD/ADHD medicine

Kids say they party to:
• Release from the stress of school (30%)
• Make friends (23%)
• Relax (21%)

69% say they don't think they party too much

25% of freshmen have missed classes/assignments because they've partied too much and 10% admit their grades are suffering because of partying

75% of freshmen feel that there ARE negative ramifications to partying

26% of freshmen feel they have to party to fit in

40% of freshmen say their parents DON'T know how much they party, while 34% say their parents DO know how much they party

40% of freshmen say that peer pressure is the same as or worse than in college than in high school

To see our "Wasted Youth: What Freshman Year At College Is Really Like" series, click here.

next: Keep the Holiday Partying in Check
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jason Goldtrap December 16, 2008, 8:14 AM

When do kids ever see an alternative to party centered college experiences? Are there any shows on TV or any movies that show a realistic college experience in which kids are actually learning skills and applying them? It’s Hyper Media Saturation: the shoving down the throats of the consumer that there is only one mode in which to enter college, the party mode.

Anonymous December 16, 2008, 11:54 AM

I’m in college, and while I know some kids who drink and party, I stay away from the heavy partiers. I think it was really good for me to have my best friend (from middle and high school) as my roommate. We supported each other, kept each other on the right track. We have one of our close friends from high school, a very nice clean cut guy, hang out with us often (which means we’re not getting drunk - we just go get food and talk for a long time). And my best friend and I have boyfriends who go to the same college (different school than us, closer to where we used to live) that come and visit every weekend. Both of them live straight lives as well, no substance abuse, and they focus on their studies. Kids need a familiar support group to keep them in line. When you go to college alone and you’re trying to fit in, this partying stuff is so much more enticing because you want to meet people and be accepted. If you’re with people that already accept you, you don’t have to do this wild stuff to get attention.

Michelle December 16, 2008, 5:37 PM

That’s not all college is about. I am a college freshman who has never done any of that stuff, thanks very much. To those who are well aware that not all college freshmen do that, thank you. I hope we can continue to make the world aware of the lies we’ve been made to believe.

Kevin Keough September 28, 2010, 8:54 AM

Numerous reputable social scientists have documented a fundamental difference between the social and sexual relations with the opposite sex as compared to their Baby Boomer parents.

It was virtually impossible to find college co-eds who could define and explain the quaint notion of dating. Hooking up is the currency of the social realm with all sexual activity excluding intercourse is not considered sex.

These college women were not happy with the prevailing norms welcoming opportunities to tell researchers that the reigning social-sexual norms and politics are deeply unsettling to them.

Curiously, researchers repeatedly encountered college administrators either providing no support for or actively discouraging such public discourse about a central experience in the lives of all college students.

Our kids don’t like how things are, don’t know how to change it, request forums to dialogue that are ignored by those charged with the responsibility of exposing these kids to intelligent examination discussion and social advocacy led by the student population.

What is up with this ?

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