Binge Drinking: Students in Coed Dorms Drink More

Here’s something else for parents of college students to worry about:  students living in coed college dorms end up abusing alcohol more.

Students living in a coed college dorm are more likely to drink alcohol and they are roughly 2 1/2 times more likely to drink excessively. In a study conducted by the Journal of American College Health, 41.5% of students in coed dorms admitted they participated in weekly binge drinking. In comparison only 17.6% of students living in single-sex dorms said they spent time each week binge drinking.

I wonder if it ever occurred to campus housing administrators that putting young men and women together in dorms would trigger binge drinking, but it doesn’t take someone with a PhD to figure out how easily it can happen.

For the minority of students who would prefer to live in single-sex dorms, there is a dwindling supply. The number of coed dorms has skyrocketed during the past 30 years. Today, more than 90% of dormitories are coed.

And here’s more dreary news for parents:  Students in coed dorms were more likely to have had a sexual partner during the past year. And these students were more likely to think it’s okay “for two people to get together for sex and not necessarily expect anything further.”

The researchers discovered that the students who live in single-sex dorms were almost always there because of their college placement system. So you can’t assume that kids living in single-sex dorms are prudish Carrie Nations.

Rather, the researchers concluded that there is “something unique about living in a coed dorm that was associated with risk-taking.”

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she writes a college blog for

Further Reading:

America’s Best College Dorms

College Students: Drop That Twinkie

Cut College Costs: Be a Resident Assistant

Top Party Schools of 2009

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  1. If you want to delve into the research, you can start with a government web site,

    You can then go further and look at the research by Dr. Weschler of the Harvard School of Public Health and other researchers. Their most recent study of 18 heavy drinking colleges is published in the Journal of Alcohol Studies, September 2009 issue. They found, among other things, that factors that affect student drinking include (1) a large Greek presence; (2) schools where athletics are prominent; (3) schools in the northeast. Schools where students drink the least include two year schools; religious schools; commuter schools; and historically black colleges and universities. Schols where students drink the most are schools where there are a lot of males; whites; members of fraternities and sororities; and whites.

    1. Thanks John. I have to run off to the dentist, but I briefly looked at the site and will return for a longer look soon. I think this is definitely worth writing about!

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. This study is bogus. They surveyed 500 students at five colleges (three public universities, a liberal arts college, and a religious university) to make a generalized statement about 3000 plus colleges in the United States. There is also a question as to whether single sex housing was elected by the student; enforced by the college; or random to one extent or another. For parents, better indicators of drinking activity on campus are things like (1) percent in a fraternity; (2) wealth of student body; (3) northeast location; (4) rural location; and (4) “whiteness” of student body.