Effect of Alcohol Consumption on College Student’s Academic Performance

Lauren Powers


Alcohol consumption in college students continues to affect student’s academic performance.  Student’s alcohol consumption relates to poor academic performance, criminal and social issues1.  Moreover, alcohol abuse continues to increase among college students and directly associates with decreased academic performance2.  Specifically, alcohol consumption relates to students not attending classes and not completing schoolwork in a timely manner3.  Past research emphasizes the effects of alcohol consumption and academics in college students, but not how alcohol consumption affects student’s grade point average (GPA).  The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between alcohol consumption in college students and GPA.  It is hypothesized that there will be a negative correlation between alcohol consumption and grade point average, meaning that the higher the participant’s BAL, the lower the participant’s GPA.  Participants included undergraduate students (n=229; 53.3% females; 90.8% Caucasian) aged 18-23 (M=20.3, SD=1.54), from a mid-sized, midwestern university.  Evening data was collected using breathalyzers during all days of the week and multiple weeks of the school year.  Participants were asked a series of questions about his/her drinking episode that night.  The participants were breathalyzed to measure his/her blood alcohol level (BAL).  Participants received an online survey the morning after the evening survey, which included questions about demographics, academic performance, and drinking patterns.  The higher the participants’ evening BAL related to lower GPAs, r(210)=-.20, p=.03.  GPA is inversely correlated to number of days a participant drinks, r(203)=-.24, p<.001, number of drinks the participant consumes in a typical episode of drinking, r(201)=-.22, p=.02, and the participant’s peak drinking occasion, r(198)=-.30, p<.001.  A structural equation modeling test examined risky drinking behaviors (number of days the participant consumed alcohol, how many drinks the participant consumed, and peak drinking occasion) and negative consequences predicting GPA.  The model fit the data well, c2(n=217, 4)=6.87, p=.14, CFI=.99, TLI=.98, RMSEA=.06 (CI90=.00-.13).  These results show that risky drinking behaviors are predictors of GPA and that a correlation exists between risky drinking behavior and negative consequences. Knowing that alcohol consumption affects academic performance is crucial for students to recognize the academic effects of risky drinking behavior.


College Students; Alcohol Consumption; Academic Performance

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