Students might want to think twice about going to their favorite bar after studying for their big final, according to a new study which shows drinking alcohol lowers academic performance.
University of Pittsburgh professor and co-author Mark Hoekstra said in an email to The Badger Herald the study found drinking to excess negatively impacts students’ grades.
“We find that students who turn 21 just prior to final exams perform significantly worse than their peers who turn 21 just after finals,” Hoekstra said. “The negative effect of drinking is large; it’s about the same as having a bad teacher for the entire semester.”
The study used United States Air Force Academy students to collect data because they have a strongly enforced underage drinking ban, Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra said the study compared the grades of students who turn 21 right before finals to those who turn 21 right after. This way, Hoekstra said, the only variable between the two groups is a few weeks, and they can be confident the only difference is one group can drink.
The most surprising result of the study for Hoekstra was the best students were the ones whose grades suffered the most because of drinking.
According to Hoekstra, most studies only examined low-frequency outcomes of drinking like mortality and teen pregnancy, and not much work was done on other things such as college grades.
However, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been studying the impact drinking has on its students for 20 years, according to Aaron Brower, UW’s vice provost for teaching and learning.
Brower said they have been studying trends of UW student drinking, and they found across the board no one does better in school when they have been drinking.
He added studies have found drinking disrupts your brain’s ability to transfer thoughts from your short-term memory into your long-term memory.
“If you study for five hours and you go out drinking, you will erase everything you learned,” Brower said. “Its actually better for [you] to study, then nap for three or four hours and then go out.”