Excessive drinking and drug use during college: Prospective associations with graduate school plans and attendance

J Am Coll Health. Feb-Mar 2020;68(2):132-138. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1535494. Epub 2019 Feb 14.


Objective: This study examines the prospective relationship between substance use during college and two outcomes: having definite plans to attend graduate school; and, among individuals with plans, enrolling in graduate school upon college graduation. Participants: n = 980 were originally enrolled as first-time, first-year college students in an ongoing longitudinal study (August 2004 to present). Methods: Measures from personal interviews included demographics, GPA, alcohol use, alcohol abuse/dependence, and other drug use during college. Results: Fifty-four percent had definite plans to attend graduate school, and 47% of students with definite plans enrolled in graduate school. Alcohol dependence was significantly associated with reduced likelihood of having graduate school plans. Among students with plans to attend graduate school, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence during college were associated with decreased likelihood of enrolling in graduate school. Conclusions: Substance use during college might impact graduate school enrollment, and early intervention efforts could help students achieve their educational goals.

Keywords: Alcohol; college students; graduate students; marijuana; substance use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural