What about Friday classes?
Thursday night drinking can play a significant role in the overall drinking culture on a college campus. In a study of student drinking behaviors among first year students, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays accounted for 72% of total weekly alcohol consumption (Del Boca et al., 2004). Recent research demonstrates an inverse relationship between Thursday night drinking and enrollment in Friday classes. One study conducted at a large Midwestern public university found heavy drinking students to be less likely to enroll in classes that meet on Fridays and more likely to attempt to enroll in classes that meet later in the day. This same study demonstrated that students with no Friday classes drank approximately twice as much on Thursdays as students with early Friday classes (Wood et al., 2007).
Given the published and anecdotal evidence of this relationship, many campuses have increased Friday classes to reduce the severity and pervasiveness of Thursday night drinking. Some campuses have even scheduled earlier Friday classes to address student alcohol problems.
Although campuses have moved to schedule more Friday classes to reduce Thursday night drinking, there is no published research on the efficacy of this approach. However, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) researchers discovered the strength of the relationship between Friday classes and Thursday night drinking through routine monitoring of their student blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels and Friday class enrollment over a four-year period. Their results demonstrated that the average number of Friday classes per student predicted Thursday night drinking. As HWS increased the number of Friday classes, student Thursday night BAC levels declined. Between 2005 and 2008, the percentage of students with a BAC above 0.05 on Thursday nights fell from about 25% to a low of 5%, while the university’s average number of Friday classes per student increased.
Issues and considerations
In order to increase Friday classes, faculty members must be willing and available to offer their time. This may pose as a challenge due to the common and obvious desire for a three-day weekend on the part of both faculty and students. As such, it is important to build faculty awareness of college high-risk drinking and the relationship between Thursday night drinking and Friday classes.
Del Boca, F.K., Darkes, J., Greenbaum, P.E., and Goldman, M.S. (2004). Up Close and Personal: Temporal Variability in the Drinking of Individual College Students During Their First Year. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(2): 155-164.
Wood, P.K., Sher, K.J., and Rutledge, P.C. (2007). College Student Alcohol Consumption, Day of the Week, and Class Schedule. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(7): 1195-1207.