Talking Points for Parents
1. Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance.
National studies have demonstrated that partying may contribute as much to a student's decline in grades as the difficulty of his or her academic work. Let your student know that you expect sound academic work and solid grades. If they know this, they are likely to be more devoted to their studies and have less time to get in trouble with alcohol.
2. Stress that alcohol is toxic and excessive consumption can be fatal.
We're not trying to get you to use scare tactics. The fact is students die every year from alcohol poisoning. Discourage dangerous drinking through participation in drinking games, fraternity or sorority hazing, or in any other way. Ask your student to have the courage to intervene when they see someone putting their life at risk through participation in dangerous drinking.
3. Tell your student to intervene when classmates are in trouble with alcohol.
Nothing is more tragic than an unconscious student being left to die while others either fail to recognize that the student is in jeopardy or fail to call for help due to fear of getting the student in trouble. Encourage your student to learn what the signs and symptoms are and how to get help.
4. Tell your student to stand up for their right to a safe academic environment.
Your student can be affected by the consequences of others’ drinking, whether he or she chooses to drink or not. Students who do not drink can be affected by the behavior of those who do, ranging from interrupted study time or sleep to assault or unwanted sexual advances. This is not something that he/she should have to put up with. Students can confront these problems directly by discussing them with the offender. If that fails, they should notify staff in Housing & Residence Life (if living on campus), or the Dean of Students Office.
5. Know the alcohol scene on campus and talk about it.
Students grossly exaggerate the use of alcohol and other drugs by their peers. Students are highly influenced by peers and tend to drink up to what they perceive to be the norm. Confronting misperceptions about alcohol use is vital. Talk to your student about what really happens on campus. Learn more about the realities of alcohol use at USI.
6. Avoid tales of drinking exploits from your college days.
Entertaining students with stories of drinking back in "the good old days" normalizes what, even then, was abnormal behavior. It also appears that you – as a parent – are giving approval to dangerous alcohol consumption.
7. Encourage your student to volunteer in community work.
In addition to structuring free time, volunteerism provides students with opportunities to develop job-related skills and to gain valuable experience. Helping others also gives students a broader outlook and a healthier perspective on the opportunities they enjoy. Volunteer work on campus helps students further connect with their school, increasing the likelihood of staying in college.
8. Make it clear: Underage consumption and impaired driving are against the law.
Parents must make it clear that they do not condone breaking the law. You should openly and clearly express disapproval of underage drinking and dangerous alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink, know that your student is paying attention. Present a positive role model in the responsible use of alcohol.