Trends in alcohol consumption among college students are quite different from those of high school seniors. According to the Monitoring the Future Study, occasions of heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) have declined 8 percentage points (44% to 36%) over the past 30 years among college students compared to an 19 percentage point decline in the rate of heavy drinking among high school seniors (41% to 22%) during this same time period.
Overall, the prevalence of college drinking over the past two decades, measured as lifetime, annual, and past 30-day consumption rates have all declined. Since 1991, lifetime consumption among college students has declined 14% proportionately, while annual consumption and monthly consumption are down 12% and 15%, respectively. Despite this long-term progress, over the past ten years trends in college drinking have remained relatively unchanged.
Among college students and young adults generally, there are also substantial gender differences in alcohol consumption, with college males drinking more than females. In 2011, two out of five college males (43%) reported consuming five or more drinks in a row during the previous two weeks compared to their college female peers (32%).
(Source: Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2011: Volume II, College students and adults ages 19–50. Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. 2012)