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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Perception of and Expectations for Involvement in the College Drinking Culture Among First Semester College Men and Women: A Mixed Methods Study

Spencer Olmstead, Assistant ProfessorCollege of Education, Health & Human Sciences - Child and Family Studies

The transition to college among emerging adults includes exposure to new cultures and subcultures. Among these is the “college drinking culture.” We conducted a qualitative content analysis of 242 first semester undergraduate college students’ written comments to a series of open-ended questions focused on their perceptions of and expectation for engaging in this culture. Four groups emerged from our analyses: Non-Endorsers, Autonomous Drinkers, Have Bought In, and Law Abiders. A greater percentage of men than women Have Bought In to the college drinking culture. We also examined how groups varied in their binge drinking experience, which was significantly higher for those in the Have Bought In group than those in the other groups. Also, the Autonomous Drinkers group had significantly greater binge drinking experience than those in the Non-Endorsers and Law Abiders groups. Implications for alcohol related education and intervention for first year college students are discussed.

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