When choosing a college, students often consider the teacher to student ratio, cost of attendance, and majors offered. If they give any consideration to the substance use at a certain college, it’s usually in the context of partying with friends. It’s less common for students to think about the alcohol-related arrests an institution might experience.
States with the Highest Alcohol-Related Arrests
Thanks to the Office of Postsecondary Education, there are plenty of statistics related to alcohol arrests among college students.
Below is the ranking each state received, from most to least alcohol arrests among college students in 2016 (the most recent year available):
1. Wyoming – about 17 arrests for alcohol per 1,000 college students
2. South Dakota
3. North Dakota
4. West Virginia
9. South Carolina
10. New Hampshire
13. North Carolina
18. Texas – near the national average of 3.4 arrests for alcohol per 1,000 college students
19. Ohio – near the national average of 3.4 arrests for alcohol per 1,000 college students
20. Virginia – near the national average of 3.4 arrests for alcohol per 1,000 college students
21. New Jersey
23. New Mexico
41. Rhode Island
42. New York
50. Washington, DC
51. Hawaii – Less than 1 arrest for alcohol per 1,000 college students
Changes Over Time
These numbers are not stagnant from year to year. From 2015 to 2016, the following saw increases in alcohol-related arrests among college students:
- Washington DC – 63% increase
- Louisiana – 29% increase
- Wyoming – 21% increase
- Utah – 19% increase
- Missouri – 17% increase
During the same time frame, the following saw decreases in alcohol-related arrests among college students:
- Alaska – 50% decrease
- Vermont – 47% decrease
- Maine – 46% decrease
- Massachusetts – 40% decrease
- Illinois – 32% decrease
Schools with the Highest Alcohol-Related Arrests
In spite of Wyoming having the most per capita arrests of college students for alcohol, its four-year colleges and universities were not necessarily the ones with the highest rates. Of the top 25 schools, none were in Wyoming. Pennsylvania had more schools listed than any other state, at 11.
The 25 post-secondary schools with the highest rates of alcohol arrests among their student body are:
1. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania (PA)
2. University of New Hampshire (NH)
3. Indiana University-Purdue University (IN)
4. West Chester University of Pennsylvania (PA)
5. Pennsylvania State University (PA)
6. University of Minnesota Duluth (MN)
7. Indiana University of Pennsylvania (PA)
8. SUNY at Geneseo (NY)
9. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (PA)
10. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (PA)
11. South Dakota State University (SD)
12. University of Wyoming (WY)
13. Coastal Carolina University (SC)
14. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (PA)
15. University of Colorado Boulder (CO)
16. Eastern Connecticut State University (CT)
17. Pennsylvania College of Technology (PA)
18. University of Nebraska – Lincoln (NE)
19. West Virginia University (WV)
20. Lehigh University (PA)
21. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (PA)
22. University of North Dakota (ND)
23. Robert Morris University (PA)
24. Butler University (IN)
25. Southern Illinois University Carbondale (IL)
There was considerable variation between the school with the highest number of arrests (Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania), which had 29.4 per 1,000 college students and the school ranked 25th (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), which came in at 13.6 arrests.
While these statistics do provide valuable information about the alcohol use and misuse on college campuses, it is important to recognize that they do not provide a full picture of the overall drinking habits of college students in any one place. The number of arrests can be impacted not only by how many students are drinking and how much alcohol they consume, but also where they drink (house parties versus bars) and how punitive law enforcement is regarding those committing infractions.
Before Students Reach Campus
It is important for parents to talk to their children about alcohol long before they ever set foot on a college campus. Knowing in advance what to expect when they reach campus, the choices their parents would like them to make, and how to get help if they make a mistake can help young adults to make better choices when they get to college.
It is also important for young people to understand that there are negative consequences to alcohol abuse. The CDC reports that young people who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
- Increased absences from class.
- Poor or failing grades.
- Lack of participation in age-appropriate activities.
- Legal problems.
- Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
- Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
- Becoming a victim of an assault.
- Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
- Memory issues.
- Abuse of other drugs.
- Life-long changes in brain development.
- Death from alcohol poisoning.
- Unintentional injuries, such as alcohol-related car crashes, burns, falls, and drowning.
Unintentional alcohol-related injuries kill about 1,825 college students per year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The likelihood of these outcomes is increased if young people binge drink or start drinking at an especially young age, due to the most advanced parts of the brain still being under development.
If you are a young person who needs help getting sober, a friend who is worried about someone you know abusing alcohol, or a parent whose child needs help, Fair Oaks Recovery Center is able to provide guidance on what sort of treatment would be best.