So your child started drinking …

By Miranda Holloway

I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to send your child off to college, setting them loose into the world. And I imagine that sending them to one of Princeton Review’s top party schools probably doesn’t help. Even if your child doesn’t drink and has not expressed any interest in starting, he or she will no doubt be introduced to the drinking culture on campus. No matter what your child’s social intentions are come fall, make sure to have these three conversations with them before move-in to prepare them for a fun, yet safe stay at one of the nation’s top party schools.

Pacing is important

Regardless if your child enjoyed the occasional clandestine beverage in high school or plans on staying sober, it’s important they know how to pace themselves and how their body might react to alcohol.

Even if your child has drank before, the quantity and variety of alcohol available in college can’t compare to any high school party. It’s easy for young students to feel like they have to prove themselves or look tough by going shot for shot with those around them, but this often doesn’t end well.

As simple as it sounds, make sure your student knows that just because someone offers them a drink doesn’t mean they have to take it. If they know that they have reached their limit, it’s easy to politely decline. One fun trick I’ve learned is just to hold a cup for hours on end, and if someone offers a shot, do the cartoonish pour-it-behind-you-when-no-one’s-looking.

Most importantly, make sure that your freshman knows if they’re hanging out with people who do not respect their limits or choices when it comes to alcohol, they’re probably not the friends they should be friends with for the next four years. Even though everyone is desperate to make friends the first few weeks of school, it’s important to walk away from people who don’t respect your choices.

When things get dangerous

The University provides some great education for first year students about the dangers of alcohol with its ACE IT program, but these classes come in the first few weeks of school. It can’t hurt to talk to your student about the signs of alcohol poisoning and how to help a friend that has had a little too much to drink.

With your and the University’s help, your freshman should be able to list off the symptoms of alcohol poisoning like a pro by the time welcome week rolls around. Shaking, vomiting, slow or irregular breathing and hypothermia are all simple signs that should trigger your child into thinking something is wrong.

Freshmen should know to make sure their dangerously drunk friends are on their sides and not be afraid to call an ambulance if they are even a little worried about the situation.

Students are often afraid to call 911 because they fear that their friend will be angry with them, or they could get in trouble for drinking, too. To this, tell them it’s better to have an angry acquaintance than a dead friend. C-U area laws also protect underage drinkers who are trying to help someone in need.

The consequences

Despite the legal age to enter bars being 19 and the school’s reputation as a party school, police and University officials don’t joke around when it comes to underage drinking. If under 21, students can not have alcohol in dorm rooms and risk having incident reports written up if they’re caught drinking or at a party in a residence hall room file:///Users/mirandaholloway/Downloads/hall-policies.pdf.

Underage drinking can be costly, too. Getting caught underage drinking in Champaign comes with a nice, hefty minimum $330 ticket. Unlawful use of ID carries the same fine but could possible result in license suspension.

Miranda is a junior in Media

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@mirandholloway