Jun 13, 2009

Thirsty Thursday

Over the course of a week, I read hundreds of documents on issues related to college and college admissions. I scan newspaper articles, blogs, and scholarly research papers. Usually the effort pays off, and I pick up odd kernels of information as I go along. Every now and again, however, I experience a "DUH" moment where I think, "Gee, who would spend time researching and writing about that?"

A report on undergraduate drinking habits summarized in a recent edition of Inside Higher Ed certainly produced this response. Without going into gory details, the report lays out statistics supporting the finding that students without Friday classes tend to drink more on Thursday nights than those with Friday classes. In other words, students who don't have to get out of bed on Friday, feel free to treat Thursday night as the start of the weekend. Duh! But there's more to it, and colleges worrying about excessive binge drinking are looking for ways to curb the trend among undergraduates who devise ways of avoiding Friday classes:


This led me to a little research of my own and much to my surprise I found Thirsty Thursday is a term-of-art with up to six separate definitions in The Urban Dictionary. While some of these definitions are most definitely not repeatable, the most acceptable reads:

"A term normally found on college campuses, the title became popular when many people did not have early morning classes on Fridays, allowing them to drink and party on Thursday night. Every Thursday of every week durring [sic] the semester is Thirsty Thursday; there is no specific or special date for it."

Not offering a definition, Wikipedia lists a number of historic bar promotions each of which claims to be the inventor of Thirsty Thursday and suggests some song lyrics lauding the phenomenon. Clearly, the term has found a place in our popular culture.

So, what does this have to do with the business of college admissions? I suppose it comes down to preparing high school seniors for the transition from secondary school to the challenges of college life. Drinking is a college fact of life, and I find that households treat the issue very differently. Some allow drinking to begin at home; others ban it entirely. Recent research suggests that the former may not be as sound a strategy as the latter:


Wherever you stand on the issue, I strongly recommend taking a moment to look at materials developed by the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) before sending your college freshman off to school:


This is one among several transitional issues I plan to address in my communications to seniors and their parents. Unfortunately, it may be about the most important.

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