Survey links low GPAs, drinking

By Matt Gronlund

This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs. Some students must still have questions.

A Department of Education survey during 1989 and 1990 found that students’ grade point averages drop dramatically as the use of drugs and alcohol increases.

The survey, billed as the largest of its kind, included 56,361 students at 78 colleges. NIU recommended the survey be conducted, but did not participate because it was conducting its own survey.

The national survey found that students with the highest GPAs drink about three drinks a week. Those with GPAs of D and F drink about 11 drinks a week.

Health Enhancement Services Coordinator Michael Haines said NIU’s data on GPAs corresponds with the national survey.

In one area, the national survey focused on binge drinkers, who drink five or more drinks in one sitting. The survey shows that 42 percent of all students binged at least once during the two week period the survey was conducted.

“Our studies show that two-thirds of NIU students don’t binge drink,” Haines said. During the survey period, 27 percent of the males and 13 percent of the females had binged.

But Haines said the amount of drinks considered a binge for women should be lowered because a woman’s body is usually smaller. The amount of women who binge is probably much higher than the survey shows, he said.

According to Health Enhancement Services, 86 percent of the women and 90 percent of the men surveyed at NIU said they drink when they party. But, Haines said some information on grades and drinking could be inaccurate.

“Other factors such as gender, residence and ethnicity should have been taken into account,” Haines said. “When other factors were looked at (in a 1987 NIU study), GPAs did not correlate with the survey.”

Although the number of college drinkers hasn’t changed in twenty years, “for the most part college students are not binge drinkers, and it’s getting better,” Haines said.