Undergraduate studies have become a staple in American culture. By junior year in high school, students typically have a college counselor of some sort and/or a roadmap for getting into college. This educational development reflects the increasingly mandatory nature of undergraduate studies. No longer can one easily get a healthy job with just their high school diploma. An undergraduate degree is required.
This is the crux of the argument mothers, fathers, and other guardians give to young adults when asked the loaded question: Why do I have to go to college? Their pitch also frequently includes the social aspect of college, as they say things like, “College is a social experiment. It’s where you will meet your friends for the rest of your life. It’ll take you out of your comfort zone and make you grow.”
Now, these claims are certainly valid, but at the same time they aren’t exceptionally persuasive. With this in mind, maybe adults should incorporate booze and marijuana use into their reasoning for undergraduate studies. Sounds like it would work, no?
Obviously adult guardians don’t want to persuade young adults to drink alcohol or smoke pot. A: because both substances are stigmatized as agents of reduced productivity and B: because other young adults will likely influence their loved ones to use the substances, so they’re inclined to voice abstinence. However, the report, “A Day in the Life of College Students Aged 18 to 22: Substance Use Facts”, conducted by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that roughly 13.33% and 7.77% of undergraduate students drink alcohol and smoke pot respectively on any given day. So, whether adults like it or not, sending their kids to college inherently means putting them in an environment where they’re prone to drink and smoke.
This being the case, should parents and guardians incorporate alcohol and marijuana into their lectures on the meaning and importance of college? Should they teach young adults that drinking and smoking could be life-affirming if their social anxiety is high and visible enough? Should they demonstrate the positive effects of alcohol and pot as well as the negative effects? Because at the end of the day, college students are likely to indulge in these substances, and guardians can help their kids make the right decisions, i.e. knowing when to stop drinking.
These suggestions may seem ridiculous, but they’re not jokes. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, every year more than 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries and about 700,000 are assaulted by another student who’s been drinking. Since alcohol is going to be sipped and marijuana is going to be toked, guardians should use their position of power and guidance to help alleviate these problems, shed light on partying culture, and honestly promote a healthy collegiate environment.
Preaching abstinence only makes for poor communication, leading to unfortunate results. It’s time for guardians to talk to their young adults about how to drink and smoke in a healthy manner.