Expectation to reality: college freshmen and the use of alcohol
Pawvluk, Katrina Jean
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This study focused on the alcohol use of college freshmen. It was designed to explore an area of student alcohol use that has not been well researched. An extensive amount of research has been done on reasons students use alcohol, the consequences of alcohol use, patterns of alcohol use, and the expected effects of alcohol consumption. However, very little is known about students’ expected use of alcohol. The study focused on student expectations for the use of alcohol prior to starting college and their actual use of alcohol in their first year of college. A qualitative research method was used to collect and analyze the data. Data were collected via individual and group interviews, and analyzed by gender, residency status, and living environment. This structure was used to identify differences and similarities between males and females, in-state and out-of-state students, and students assigned to small and large halls. The use of interviews proved to be a good way of gaining information on students’ expectations verses actual experiences with alcohol in college. Study findings indicated that students come to the college environment with some strong, deeply embedded preconceived notions about alcohol and its role on campus and that these expectations did, to some extent, influence student behaviors regarding their use of alcohol. Students in this sample held the expectation that alcohol would be very accessible and was just a part of college life. Findings about actual behaviors with alcohol indicated that students drink more during their first semester in college than in later semesters. Students reported their use of alcohol is influenced by a number of factors, including: peers, academic stress, the accessibility of alcohol, and the need to relax and become more sociable.
- Masters Theses