Methods. Participants were first-year college students at a large state university (52% female; 27% non-Hispanic white) who completed 14 consecutive daily web-surveys. Daily measures included number of drinks consumed (0 to 25+ drinks); skipped class the next day (1=Yes, 0=No); and spent any time on schoolwork the same day and the next day (both 1=Yes, 0=No). Person-level measures included importance of getting good grades (1=Very important, 0=All other importance levels) and gender. Three logistic multilevel models nesting occasions (N=10,052 person-days) within people (N=718 students) examined whether the number of drinks consumed each day predicted same-day schoolwork and next-day skipping class and schoolwork.
Results. Alcohol use was reported on 11% of days, and 54% of students reported drinking at least once during the measurement period. On drinking days, average consumption was 5.9 drinks (SD=3.8). Students did schoolwork on 81% of days and skipped class on 11% of days. At the daily-level, on heavier drinking days, the odds of doing schoolwork were lower the same day [OR=0.90; 95% CI=0.88, 0.92] and the next day [OR=0.78; 95% CI=0.76, 0.80], with no association with skipping class the next day. At the person-level, students who consumed more alcohol on average across the 14-day period were more likely to skip class [OR=1.31; 95% CI=1.17, 1.46]. Students rating getting good grades as very important had lower odds of skipping class the next day [OR=0.52; 95% CI=0.36, 0.76] and higher odds of doing schoolwork the same day [OR=1.35; 95% CI=1.10, 1.66] and the next day [OR=1.44; 95% CI=1.15, 1.80]. Compared to females, males were more likely to skip class the next day [OR=1.36; 95% CI=1.07, 1.73] and less likely to do schoolwork the same day [OR=0.79; 95% CI=0.70, 0.90] and the next day [OR=0.81; 95% CI=0.70, 0.93].
Conclusions. Links between heavy drinking and academics likely have within-person and between-person explanations. When first-year students drank more heavily, doing schoolwork was less likely. In addition, heavier drinkers skipped class more often than lighter drinkers. Additional research and programming are needed to reduce heavy drinking and promote academic success among college students.