Social norms are group-held beliefs around behavior and expectations. We know that  students overestimate the quantity and frequency of drinking among peers and believe that peers’ attitudes are more permissive than they really are.

Alcohol and Social Life at Middlebury: What Parents Need to Know

Carriers of these misperceptions are not limited to students; alumni, faculty staff, community members, and parents can also contribute to a “reign of error” and a normative environment supportive of high risk drinking. Parents often underestimate the critical role that they can play in the lives of their students once they leave home. Research tells us that students do care what their families think about alcohol. Underage students are more likely to make decisions based on their perception of their parents’ approval of drinking while of-age students look to the drinking behaviors in their families to guide their own.

Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Notice

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 requires that Middlebury annually notify all students, faculty, and staff of important alcohol and drug policies.

Important Middlebury Social Norms

94% of Middlebury students do not view Middlebury as a “party school.”

90% of Middlebury students agree that students at this school respect you if you don’t drink alcohol.

19% of Middlebury students choose not to drink for many reasons:

  • Don’t like the taste of alcohol (48%)
  • Don’t like the effect of alcohol (65%)
  • Acknowledging underage drinking is illegal (43%)
  • Have a family history informing the decision (33%)
  • For religious/cultural reasons (31%)

Middlebury College data from 2012 Campus/NESCAC Alcohol Survey

Tips for Talking with Your Student

Ask open-ended questions about their use.

  • Be open to the responses.
  • Talk about why people use alcohol. Ask: what are the hopes and regrets of alcohol use?

Be direct and set high expectations.

  • Remember that more means less. The more alcohol consumed the lower the associated GPA.
  • Encourage Friday morning classes.
  • Remember that ambiguity can lead to mixed messages.

Meet students in their room.

  • Knowing family will be visiting has positive effects on hallway environments.
  • Talk about what you see.

Take advantage of everyday events to talk about alcohol.

  • Share family history.
  • Talk about alcohol related incidents in the media.

Encourage students to get involved with campus activities.

  • The more unstructured free time the more likely they are to engage in high risk behavior.

Be prepared.

  • Keep a list of campus and community resources handy in the event that your student calls and is looking for support.