It’s no secret that the drinking culture on college campuses is pervasive. Excessive drinking by college students is accepted as a harmless rite of passage by many. Although colleges and universities have alcohol policies and prevention programs, excessive drinking is a widespread problem that fuels risky and reckless behavior.

A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates that about four out of five college students drink and that about half of college students binge drink. For men, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a row and for women, four drinks in a row.

College students binge-drink at a higher rate than their non-college attending peers.

College drinking can affect your life for years to come

Alcohol is known for lowering a person’s inhibitions and can affect social behaviors. Incidents that you would deal with rationally with when sober can mushroom after having a few drinks and can end up involving the police.

College students who are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can face many consequences, including jail time, stiff fines, license suspension and court-ordered treatment. A DUI conviction can be troublesome for future career prospects. If you have hopes for a career in fields such as medicine, law or education, you may not be able to get a license from the state issuing agency if you have been convicted of a DUI.

Alcohol abuse can be devastating to student academic performance. Academic problems students face due to drinking include missing classes, falling behind, doing poorly on exams and overall lower grades. If you break your school’s code of conduct, you could lose scholarship opportunities, federal financial aid, campus housing and face the possibility of suspension or expulsion.

Students who live by the motto work hard, play hard often do not think about the legal consequences of excessive drinking until it is too late. A criminal record for an alcohol-related conviction can stand between your financial aid, education and future employment opportunities.