Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Freaks - a New Program for Student Life and Success

Academic journal article College Student Affairs Journal

Freaks - a New Program for Student Life and Success

Article excerpt

As students enter college they become increasingly responsible for their own actions and decisions. However, many college students lack the skills to regulate their newly found freedom, often choosing to participate in deleterious behaviors such as drinking alcohol and using other drugs, eating poorly, not exercising, and engaging in unprotected sexual activities. These behaviors can place a major strain on a student's ability to succeed and often result in a student's inability to graduate. Although colleges and universities have many support programs to assist and encourage student success, many students still engage in these self-destructive behaviors. Providing alternative prevention/intervention programs at a time when students are more likely at risk may therefore be appropriate on many campuses. Additionally, designing programs that align with academics serves to strengthen the college experience for the student by providing additional skills useful for success not only in school, but in other life pursuits as well.

Alcohol use has continued to be a major factor in student orientation to "freedom." According to the most recent National College Health Assessment, whether of legal age or not, approximately 66% of college students reported drinking alcohol during the past 30 days (American College Health Association, 2012). Although not necessarily detrimental if alcohol is consumed in moderation, the meaning of this statistic has become somewhat desensitized to many students and administrators in higher education, often to the point of it being expected and accepted. Students continue to report drinking alcohol illegally (based on age), binge drinking (5 or more drinks for males and 4 or more drinks for females during one sitting) and driving while intoxicated (American College Health Association, 2012; Skidmore & Murphy, 2011; Fromme, Wetherill, & Neal, 2010). Various studies show that these risky behaviors increase the likelihood students will be involved with violent behavior, have legal problems, miss classes, have lower overall grade point averages, and drop out of school (American College Health Association, 2012; Ahuna, Tinnesz, & VanZile-Tamsen, 2011; Huchting, Lac, Hummer, & LaBrie, 2011).

Several studies have found that students regularly engaging in campus-sponsored, alcohol-free activities were less likely to drink alcohol and would consume less alcohol when they did engage in such behavior (Patrick, Maggs, & Osgood, 2010; Fenzel, 2005; Correia, Benson, & Carey, 2005; Murphy, Barnett, & Colby, 2006; Murphy, McDevitt-Murphy, & Barnett, 2005). It should be noted at least one study found no difference between those students attending alcohol-service parties versus alcohol-free parties (Wei, Barnett, & Clark, 2010). However, the authors did make it a point to indicate those who attended alcohol-free parties did show lower levels of alcohol problems.. Donald Misch (2010, p. 232), University of Colorado at Boulder, said ..."[Alcohol] strategies are continually being enhanced in various ways to optimize their efficacy; but, even with more widespread application and refinement of technique and targets, they are likely to produce no more than incremental progress. Thus, although current efforts should certainly be continued and refined, novel approaches are desperately needed if college student alcohol abuse and its repercussions are going to be substantially reduced." This among other related reasons, such as student retention, are the impetus for the FREAKS program.

Over the last few years, student retention rates have declined at many universities around the country, some studies indicating up to 40% of first-year students dropping out before the beginning of their second year (Ahuna, Tinnesz, & VanZile-Tamsen, 2011; Shinde, 2010). However, research has indicated that retaining a student in college is less expensive than recruiting new students, so many universities have begun to address this problem by implementing academic courses designed to improve stress management, refusal skills for risky behaviors, time-management skills, critical thinking skills and learning capability (Ahuna, Tinnesz, & VanZile-Tamsen, 2011). …

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