Beliefs about Alcohol and the College Experience as Determinants of Academic and Social Outcomes among Undergraduate Students

Crawford & Novak / College Student Journal / Dec 15, 2023

Diverse group of students drinking beer at a local bar

In this paper, the authors extend prior studies on alcohol beliefs among college undergraduates, which have focused primarily on their relationship to drinking, by assessing the extent to which the notion that alcohol use is integral to the student role impacts college undergraduates’ academic and social experiences. An analysis of data from a survey administered at a mid-sized private university indicated that alcohol beliefs affected a range of academic and social outcomes related to persistence, including grades, social integration, and students’ evaluations of their social experiences, especially among members of disadvantaged groups. While permissive alcohol beliefs increased the number of good friends white students had on campus, they reduced core friendship network size among students who identified as racial or ethnic minorities. Permissive alcohol beliefs were also inversely related to satisfaction with social life at the university among students of color and to grades, especially among first generation students. The latter findings were not explained by the strong relationship between alcohol beliefs and drinking. Thus, the association of the use of alcohol with the student role may contribute to negative academic and social experiences among members of disadvantaged groups in ways that are not directly tied to the consumption of alcohol.