Congratulations! You are the proud parent of a Penn State Altoona student!
You have spent the past eighteen years or so preparing your student for this next important stage in their life. You have taught them essential life skills, such as making good decisions to help them succeed in college.
Chances are high that your student will be faced with deciding whether to use alcohol and/or other drugs while attending college. The truth is that your student had to make these choices in high school. And, most likely, you have had many discussions about alcohol and other drugs with them.
We hope you will continue these discussions with your student BEFORE they arrive at college and DURING the time they are enrolled in college. Studies show that parents continue to exert significant influence on their college student’s decisions, especially in regard to alcohol and other drug use.
Please note—evidence suggests that the first six weeks of the first semester are critical to a first-year student’s academic success. Some students initiate heavy drinking during these early days of college, which may interfere with a successful transition to campus life.
The following are helpful guidelines:
- Listen—Don’t lecture. Research shows that scare tactics don’t work.
Encourage open communication that encourages your student to ask questions and share their concerns.
- Make your expectations clear —let your student know what you expect about such things as:
- Attending classes
- Choices regarding drinking
- Study time vs. social time
- Drinking and driving
- Drug use
- Make sure your student knows the University’s alcohol and other drug policies, as well as Pennsylvania laws and penalties for alcohol and other drug-related offenses. Remember to include that the decision to use alcohol or other drugs in college may have a negative impact on their career.
- Get the facts and share them with your student.
Students grossly overestimate the use of alcohol and other drugs by their peers. Young adults are highly influenced by peers and tend to drink in amounts they perceive to be the norm. You can play a vital role in providing accurate information and help to dispel the myth that “everyone drinks in college and gets drunk.”
- Prepare your student to handle potential alcohol/other drug-related situations by asking the following questions:
- What will you do if your friend passes out from drinking? (Make sure your student understands that passing out is NOT “sleeping it off” and the person requires emergency treatment)
- How will you handle it if your roommate often gets drunk and interrupts your sleep or studying?
- What if a friend tells you they use “study drugs” and offers you one?
- Identify “protective factors” (strategies that can reduce the risk of harm if a student chooses to drink) and encourage your student to use them if drinking.