When College Kids Have Too Much Time on Their Hands …

by Avi Snyder

“If we don’t tolerate our 3-year-olds throwing rocks at each other, why take out a second mortgage so our 19-year-olds can get drunk and do the same?”

That’s the question Naomi Schaefer Riley asks in her recent New York Post column detailing the raucous, dangerous, and occasionally criminal behavior of drunk college students across the country.

The problem of substance abuse on campus is hardly new—it has become so embedded within American culture that we hardly think twice about it. But when victories and losses in college sports regularly lead to riots and violence, we need to wake up and recognize that college drinking isn’t always harmless.

If colleges and universities want to curb substance abuse, then they will need to do more than offer helpful advice from the campus health center. They will also have to raise academic standards. When students can earn “A”s and “B”s while being more disengaged than ever from their studies, it is clear too little is being asked of them.

The research of Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, and Esther Cho shows that college students spend, on average, less than one-fifth of their time each week on academic pursuits, but over half of their time socializing. It’s time to start demanding more of students and push them rearrange their priorities. If we do, we’ll have a lot fewer 19-year-olds with too much time on their hands.

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