Student Health Services


Resources for Parents

Alcohol EDU Parent Edition

Guidelines for Conversations About Alcohol Use:

College Parents Of America recommends:

  1. Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance. Studies conducted nationally have demonstrated that partying may contribute as much to a student's decline in grades as the difficulty of his or her academic work. If students know their parents expect sound academic work, they are likely to be more devoted to their studies and have less time to get in trouble with alcohol.
  2. Stress to students that alcohol is toxic and excessive consumption can fatally poison. This is not a scare tactic. The fact is students die every year from alcohol poisoning. Discourage dangerous drinking through participation in drinking games, fraternity hazing, or in any other way. Parents should ask their students to also have the courage to intervene when they see someone putting their life at risk through participation in dangerous drinking.
  3. Tell students to intervene when classmates are in trouble with alcohol.
  4. Tell students to stand up for their right to a safe academic environment.
  5. Know the alcohol scene on campus and talk to students about it.
  6. Avoid tales of drinking exploits from your own college years.
  7. Encourage your student to volunteer in community work.
  8. Parents should make it clear that they do not condone breaking the law. Parents of college students should openly and clearly express disapproval of underage drinking and dangerous alcohol consumption. And, if parents themselves drink, they should present a positive role model in the responsible use of alcohol.

(College Parents of America, with assistance from Higher Education Center and University of Oregon)

Specific Questions to ask your son or daughter:

Use open-ended questions and reflective listening techniques:

  • How will you decide whether or not to drink at college?
  • What reasons or excuses can you give your peers if you don't want to drink?
  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you do if your roommate only wants to drink and party?
  • What will you do if your roommate or a neighbor passes out from drinking too much?
  • How will you get home if the person you rode with is too drunk to drive?

The Century Council recommends the following guidelines:

  • Low Risk drinking is:
  • Thinking about whether you will drink and what you will drink before the party
  • Being 21 or older
  • Eating a meal before drinking (within 1 hr)
  • Abstaining is the safest choice
  • Drinking no more than 1 drink per hour (max 1 for women and 2 for men)
  • Always knowing what you are drinking
  • Alternating with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Knowing how you will get home safely before you go out
  • High Risk drinking is:
  • Any drinking games (chugging, shots, keg stands)
  • Drinking to get drunk (intoxicated)
  • Drinking and driving OR drinking and riding
  • Drinking too much too fast (>1/hour)
  • Going to parties where others drink too much
  • Not knowing what you are drinking or leaving drink unattended
  • Mixing alcohol with medications or illegal drugs


(Books recommended, but not reviewed)

  • College, Alcohol, & Choices: An Essential Conversation Guide for Parents & Students, by David Burns
  • A Parents Guide to Sex, Drugs & Flunking Out: Answers to the Questions Your College Student Doesn't Want You to Ask, by Joel Epstein
  • Letting Go: Parents Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn