Drinking and the College Visit

It has been a busy day at Popular University, but Kristy is exhilarated after her time on campus. She’s sat in on a biology class, taken a campus tour, had dinner with her student host, and is planning on completing the night by attending a party thrown by one of the school’s many fraternities. She gets to the party and is immediately offered a beer by one of the frat’s members.

For many high school students, the college visit offers the optimal way of trying out a college. Staying overnight in the dorms, speaking with current students, and attending classes all provide prospective students with the chance to see what a university has to offer in terms of academic and social climate. However, this taste of college life can also present social dilemmas for students, as they sometimes have to confront the temptation (and potential pressure) to drink at a college party.

Of course, it is naïve to think that this is the first time high school students have had to contend with the possibility of drinking. However, in this situation, the stakes can be higher than they are at an average party. Besides the problems of impaired judgment and legality, these students also must consider the potential consequences that their choices can have on their chances of being admitted to the college or, in the case of accepted students, keeping their offer of admission. Some colleges, such as Kenyon College in Ohio, will also report any misbehavior to the visiting student’s high school, which can lead to further disciplinary actions.

However, is abstaining from drinking enough? As reported in The New York Times’The Choice” last year, deans from several schools advise underage visitors to “not attend parties on campus at all if they think alcohol might be present” and to seek out alternative forms of entertainment.

To help combat the problem of prospective students drinking while on campus, many colleges take a proactive approach. Besides training and supporting the student ambassadors who host visiting students, some colleges have chosen to inform the students upfront about expectations for their behavior and the possible consequences that may result from misbehavior. Kenyon is one of many colleges that require students to sign a release and code of conduct before a college-sponsored overnight stay.

“We make it very clear to students that any negative or illegal behavior on their part during their campus visit will be considered by the Admissions Office in any evaluation of their application for admission to the College,” said Daryl Uy, director of admissions at Kenyon College.

Although getting guidance from the student ambassadors and knowing the school’s expectations are very important, it is ultimately up to the visiting students to use their common sense and best judgment. Before visiting the school, be certain to know about the school’s policies and procedures for visiting students. You can also do some research on the college’s social scene by looking at websites like College Prowler. Finally, and most importantly, trust your instincts. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to leave it and find something else that is more attuned to your interests and comfort level.

If you have suggestions or stories of your own college visits, please feel free to share them here or on our Facebook page. We would love to hear from you!

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