If you have a teen headed to college this year, you’ve probably thought about college drinking. Studies show that more college students are binge drinking than they did 20 or 30 years ago, and being thought of as ‘cool’ is one of the reasons.

But this heavy drinking is not inevitable. In most colleges, most students – around 60% – don’t binge.

There are things you can do as a parent to support healthy choices. The most important is to talk with your student.

  • Listen to their concerns about college.
  • Set clear expectations. College is a major investment! Emphasize that alcohol can interfere with learning and your student’s future plans.
  • Remind them that it’s illegal to consume alcohol before 21 in all 50 states. Alcohol can lead to problems that can last far beyond college.
  • Encourage them to get involved. Students are drawn to drinking because they think it will lead to social status. Getting involved in a sport, a club, or volunteer work can help boost their social lives in a healthy way.
  • Talk with them about what to do when things go wrong. How do they plan to get out of uncomfortable situations? What will they do if they want to study and a roommate wants to party? Talking through these potential problems can help them be ready for unexpected problems.

These conversations are most effective before the student leaves for their freshman year, but it is never too late to support healthy choices and remind your student they have a caring adult they can talk to.

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