College party sport - beer pong table setting

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Collegiate culture is drowning in references to booze-soaked parties, experimenting with drugs and generally partying hardy.

For many young people, going off to college is their first taste of freedom, and a little exploration is to be expected. But it’s up to you as a parent to keep the lines of communication open with your student and to keep them from overindulging. Too much drink or any illegal drug use can have serious consequences. Make sure your student knows the ropes before the first day of class.

Critical First Few Weeks

The first few weeks of the semester are the most critical to the academic success of a new college student, Long Beach State University says. Alcohol and drug use can throw a wrench into a student’s transition into college and derail their academic success (and quite possibly their future).

Talk to your student early and often about the consequences of alcohol and drug use. Keep lines of communication open and address their feelings and opinions seriously.

Rules on Campus

Different states and jurisdictions have different rules about drinking and recreational drug use. It’s important that both you and your student understand the rules at home and the rules where they’ll be going to school. Also know that different campuses and even buildings on campus may have policies that differ from the surrounding municipality. For instance, it may be legal to drink at 21 in the town where the college is located, but alcohol may be prohibited on campus. Make sure to go over the rules for all the places your student is likely to spend time and make sure they know the consequences of breaking them, not just from you but also from their school and city.

Tips for The Talk

First of all, make sure it’s not just one talk, but an ongoing conversation. Evaluate and be willing to talk about your own views on alcohol and drug use. Set a good example with your behavior, and establish multiple lines of communication, including regular calls and texts. Listen to your student but don’t judge and don’t jump to conclusions. Let them explain themselves and have an open and frank conversation. If your student feels you disapprove, that may prevent them from coming to you in the future.

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