The party school" factor how messages about alcohol use at universities influence prospective students' perceptions "

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Communication


Department of Communication


Advisor: Teresa L. Thompson


This three-phase study was designed to determine what messages prospective students receive about alcohol use and partying at a university, how these messages affect who is most attracted to the university, and whether different types of university messages attract students with different characteristics. Interviews with first-year students at the University of Dayton (UD) revealed that most students heard messages about alcohol use and partying before deciding to attend. A survey of UD undergraduate students, which asked for retrospective reflection on their experiences as prospective students, found a significant correlation between having a positive view of UD after hearing these messages and being party- and alcohol-oriented, as measured by factors such as viewing partying as important, having the intention to drink alcohol in college, and having previous experiences of drinking to intoxication. A survey of high school students showed that a hypothetical university with many weekend activities and strong enforcement of drinking age laws is most attractive to prospective students. A party school" and a school with many activities but little law enforcement both attracted primarily party- and alcohol-oriented high school students, whereas a school with many activities and strong enforcement was attractive to all types of students. Post-secondary schools with "party school" reputations are encouraged to focus on weekend activity promotion and enforcement of alcohol laws to avoid continually attracting a concentration of heavy drinkers."


University of Dayton Students Alcohol use, College students Alcohol use Ohio Dayton, Drinking of alcoholic beverages, College students Attitudes, College choice

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