Alcohol course: Buzzkill

Educators should offer a class that deals with all aspects of college life.

This fall Minnesota State University, Moorhead, will begin requiring all incoming students to take an alcohol-education course in hopes of reducing the amount of irresponsible drinking. Although binge drinking is a problem on most college campuses, requiring students to take the course that is geared solely for dealing with alcohol-related issues is not likely to diminish students’ desires and actions.

Students are going to hate having to take this class. It will be that class that they put off and don’t work hard at solely because they are being forced to take it. While students probably are somewhat interested in drinking responsibly, being forced into doing online-based activities is doubtfully the way they would like to learn about it.

Dealing with alcohol is one of those things college students learn as they go along, or as we like to classify it, a “life skill.” Just like riding the bus, getting comfortable managing your own time and money and renting your first apartment, it is a learn-as-you-go process.

Focusing a single, required course on alcohol might be better replaced with a course that involves the basics of getting used to college life. Instead of lecturing students on binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, the information could be just a part of the program. This way students still would learn information regarding alcohol but would be more likely to absorb and remember it, and at least be more accepting of the class. The class could incorporate an orientation to their new city or neighborhood, basic money managing skills and could inform students about programs that will be useful to them throughout their college experience.

Also, allowing students to test out of certain sections of the class would make it feel like less of a chore. So you already have a good handle on how to stay out of credit-card debt? Move on to the next topic. That way students will feel encouraged to complete the class and move on with the rest of their college experience.

Requiring a course for the sole purpose of alcohol education will turn more students off than incorporating a more prominent reason why the course is valuable to them.