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The Impact of Alcohol on Academic Performance: Summarizing the Research

Research Finding #1: High-risk drinking negatively impacts class attendance
  • Frequent binge drinkers are more likely to miss a class, fall behind in their schoolwork (Wechsler et al., 1998)
  • The number of drinks consumed correlates positively with the number of classes missed (AlcoholEdu, 2008-2009)
  • Frequency of alcohol consumption was associated positively with absenteeism from classes disliked (Wyatt, 1992)
Research Finding #2: High-risk drinking negatively impacts time spent studying
  • Alcohol consumption has a negative predictive effect on study hours under all definitions of drinking (binge, frequent binge, drunkenness, and frequent drunkenness) (Wolaver, 2002)
  • More frequent use of alcohol usually produces larger negative effects on study hours, with frequent drunkenness having the largest negative effect (Wolaver, 2002)
  • There is a negative relationship between heavy episodic alcohol use and the time students spend on academics (Porter & Pryor, 2007)
Research Finding #3: Inverse relationship between high-risk drinking and grade point average
  • Binge drinking two or more times in a typical two week period is linked to significantly lower semester grades (Pascarella et al., 2007)
  • The probability of getting a high GPA significantly decreases as the frequency of heavy episodic drinking increases (Porter & Pryor, 2007)
  • The heaviest drinkers obtain the lowest grades (Preseley, 1993)
  • The amount of alcohol consumed correlates significantly with GPA (Singleton, R. 2007)
  • Alcohol consumption has a negative predictive effect on GPA under all definitions of drinking (binge, frequent binge, drunkenness, and frequent drunkenness) (Wolaver, 2002)
  • Heavy college drinking predicts a reduction in the probability of having an “A” average cumulative GPA (Wolaver, 2002)
  • There is a significant relationship between GPA and the percent of students who drink or are heavy drinkers (Engs et al., 2001)
  • Among drinkers, the lower the GPA, the higher the percentage who drank or were heavy drinkers (Engs et al., 2001)
  • Those students with 4.0 GPAs consumed a third fewer drinks compared to those with GPAs under 2.0 (Engs et al., 2001)
  • There is a significant decline in GPA when comparing abstainers to heavier drinking categories (Rau & Durand, 2000)
AlcoholEdu® for College National Survey Database, 2008-2009, Outside The Classroom.
Engs, R.C., Diebold, B.A. and Hanson, D.J. (1996). The Drinking Patterns and Problems of a National
Sample of College Students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 41(3), 13-33.
Pascarella, E.T., Goodman, K.M., Seifert, T.A., Tagliapietra-Nicoli, G., Park, S., Whitt, E.J. (2007). College Student Binge Drinking and Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Replication and Extension. Journal of College Student Development, 48(6), 715-727.
Porter, S.R., & Pryor, J. (2007). The Effects of Heavy Episodic Alcohol Use on Student Engagement, Academic Performance, and Time Use. Journal of College Student Development, 48(4), 455-467.
Preseley, C.A., Meilman, P.W., Lyerla, R. (1993). Alcohol and Drugs on American College Campuses: Use, Consequences, and Perceptions of the Campus Environment, Volume I: 1989:91, 105.
Rau, W. & Durand, A. (2000). The Academic Ethic and College Grades: Does Hard Work Help Students to “Make the Grade”? Sociology of Education, 73( 1), 19-38.
Singleton, R.A. (2007). Collegiate Alcohol Consumption and Academic Performance. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68(4), 548-555.
Wechsler, H., Dowdall, G., Maenner, G., Gledhill-Hoyt, J., Hang, L. (1998). Changes in Binge Drinking and Related Problems among American College Students Between 1993 and 1997: Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Survey. Journal of American College Health, 47(2), 57-68.
Wolaver, A. (2002). Effect of Heavy Drinking in College on Student Effort, Grade Point Average, and Major Choice. Contemporary Economic Policy, 20(4), 415-428.