toga partyIt seems like there is data (or at least numbers) on every factor that any family could ever dream of considering when selecting a college. Which colleges have the highest graduation rates? Which college produce the most Nobel Prize winners?

But let's be honest. There's one thing we really want to know. Which schools are most likely to turn kids into drunken train wrecks? Happily, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has put together some data on the topic:
  • "Drinking rates are highest in fraternities and sororities, followed by on-campus housing. Students who live independently off-site (e.g., in apartments) drink less, while commuting students who live with their families drink the least."
  • " Colleges and universities where excessive alcohol use is more likely to occur include schools where Greek systems dominate (i.e., fraternities, sororities), schools where athletic teams are prominent, and schools located in the Northeast."
  • Students who drink the least attend 2-year institutions, Religious schools, Commuter schools and Historically Black colleges and universities.
This is all very interesting, but it leaves out one critical element: personal choices and personal responsibility. Tons of people go to party schools and don't drink excessively, and tons of people go to religious schools and live off-campus and do drink excessively. Sending your kid to one school or not sending him to another school will not make him drink excessively or not drink excessively.

There's also some concern about selection bias in this data: Does living in a frat house make kids drink more, or do kids who are going to drink more anyway live in frat houses? And is it really surprising that kids who live with their parents or go to Christian colleges don't drink that much?

By the time your kid reaches age 18 and heads off to college, he is an adult. If you're going to devote your time and money to sending him to places where he won't be faced with temptation, you're going to have no life of your own -- and it probably won't work anyway.

If you need a quick laugh, check out the video below: Are high schools adequately preparing kids for college-level drinking?

(Hat tip to Lynn O'Shaughnessy at MoneyWatch)


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