It's Never Too Late for Parents to Talk to Their Students about Alcohol 

The first year of college is a time of major changes for your student.  Your student is transitioning from being a teen to being an adult.  It may be the first time that your student is living away from home.  College is a time of meeting many new people, experiencing new social and economic pressures, and making adjustments to new and rigorous workloads.   Your student will need to develop a new set of skills to make the adjustment to college life.   Given the increased freedom and autonomy that occurs with collegiate life, students will benefit from trusted source of information  – you.   

Parents should never assume that it’s too late for to talk about alcohol.  In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Penn State’s Robert Turrisi and his colleagues mailed parents of incoming freshmen a 22-page handbook that included general information about college student drinking and its consequences, information on alcohol’s physiological effects, and suggested communication strategies.

The results showed that if parents followed the handbooks’ recommendations and talked to their students before they started college, those students who were abstainers or light drinkers were more likely to remain so, while those who were heavy drinkers were more likely to drink less. The best time, the researchers found, was during the summer, before students arrived on campus.

We encourage you to partner with us to have conversations about alcohol use with your student prior to their arrival at Macalester.  At the end of July, incoming Macalester students will receive information regarding an alcohol abuse prevention online module they are required to complete entitled “Alcohol.Edu”.   

You can access information designed to support your conversations about alcohol that will help shape the decisions your child must make in college surrounding alcohol use.  The content is available at and includes:

  • An overview of the AlcoholEdu for College course structure and key concepts.

  • A demo video that provides you with an overview of the course your college student will experience.

  • Helpful resources, such as tips on talking to your college student about alcohol, warning signs of an alcohol problem and links to additional resources.

We will continue these conversations with your student during Orientation.  You are welcome to attend the Life at Mac: Parent and Family Overview session on Friday of Orientation which explores how you can support your student’s healthy transition to college.  Strategies to maintain wellness during the college years will be shared by health professionals.

If you are interested in more information about talking to your student about alcohol use, you may find these resources helpful:

Talk, They Hear You  

What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking

We look forward to having you join the Macalester community,

Lisa Broek, Health and Wellness Center