These rates are self-reported, so it’s important to take them with a grain of salt: Students may just be saying they’re socializing less, when in reality they’re avoiding the library like prison. But it can cut the other way too; maybe students are indeed partying less often and are afraid to admit that they’re spending more time hitting the stacks. Tracking such norms, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA has conducted the survey annually since 1966.
“When we look at the data, it seems that the reasons students are attending college have changed,” said Kevin Eagan, lead author of the study. “Years ago, it may have been wanting to become a cultured person and having a fulfilling social life that motivated students. Now we’re seeing more concerns from them about finance while enrolled in college and getting a high-paying job after graduating.” (Eagan said “socializing” referred to in-person interactions between individuals.)
Incoming college freshmen may be partying less but then partying harder once they’ve adjusted to life on campus.