College Drinking at an All-Time Low

By Chrisanne Grise 01/30/13

Has the faltering economy driven freshmen to replace beer-drinking with books?

Will beer pong survive? Photo via

The country must really have fallen on hard times when college freshmen are being forced to put down the bottle and hit the books. A new report finds that college drinking has hit a record low, with students claiming to be more focused on finding a job than partying. Only 33% of first-year students said they drank beer in 2012, compared to 35.4% in 2011, according to the annual “2012 Freshman Norms report” conducted by UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP). These new figures, based on surveys of 193,000 full-time students at 283 four-year colleges in the US, suggest that college kids today are drinking less than half as much as their parents' generation: a whopping 73.7% of freshmen reported boozing back in 1982. Researchers also found that 87.9%  of first-year students said that they were attending college "to be able to get a better job," whereas in 1976, only 67.8% reported concerns over job prospects. Industry experts say these numbers are promising, although underage drinking remains a problem. "While we recognize there is more work to be done to eliminate underage drinking, today we have a record number of college freshmen who are making the right choices about drinking," says Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. "We are encouraged by this reduction, and America's brewers and beer importers will continue to build upon this success through programs that will further reduce the harmful use of alcohol."

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.

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