And That’s A Wrap

After many hours of blood, sweat, tears, and a little bit of melodrama, my paper is finally complete. My initial goal was 10 pages and I ended up with 59, so I feel accomplished as well as a little bamboozled as to how I got here. Once I started writing I found that there was so much I wanted to say that the page count just ballooned up without me noticing. I struggled with conveying my key points in a concise manner while at the same time justifying each argument, and I’m slightly worried that the project is now too long, which will deter people from reading it. However, I feel that this was the best way to make my arguments as clear as possible while avoiding oversimplification of the themes. I got in quotes and excerpts from as many different interviewees as possible in order to support my arguments and share their stories, and a large portion of the paper addressed the implications of my research for alcohol education programs. This experience has also shown me that I want to expand this project for my Sociology thesis, which will be a lot easier now that I have such a comprehensive paper with which to begin. For my thesis I can perhaps add more interviews and analyze the points I didn’t get to cover in this paper, like the intersection between drug use and alcohol use. I’m also interested in adding a quantitative portion, like a survey, that examines the impact of demographic factors like gender, class, and race on a person’s drinking habits.

In all, I’m proud of the work I’ve done this summer and hopeful that my paper will help improve alcohol education programs in the future. I argued that programs should be much more comprehensive and teach students how to drink safely, as scare tactics did not work and every single participant in the study tried drinking. Once they did, they had no idea how different amounts would affect them or how they should minimize alcohol’s effect, for example by eating beforehand and drinking water, and had to learn these lessons through experimentation on their own. Alcohol education programs should provide this information so students do not hurt themselves or others. As I discussed in previous posts, subjects were also more likely to drink during transition periods and for special events. Alcohol education should be targeted to these time periods in order to be as efficient as possible. Many subjects received alcohol ed for a couple weeks in seventh grade and remembered none of it when they started experimenting with it in ninth grade or freshman year of college. Programs should also discuss the intersections between drinking, romantic/sexual relationships, media, and social groups, to encourage students to be critical of what they see around them and be aware of warning signs so they can help their friends in dangerous situations.

I’m so grateful I got to complete this project and for the support I received along the way. I’m also extremely excited for the research showcase and seeing the incredible things people have been working on this summer. See you all back on campus in just a week!



  1. mbegashaw says:

    Alcohol education is a funny thing to think about now for me, since I am graduating soon and I remember doing AlcoholEdu as a part of my freshman orientation. The observation that alcohol education is most important during transitional periods is very astute, as we see in our own experiences as college students. I wonder what efforts can be made to emphasize the importance of timing, as it regards alcohol education, to school systems and families?

  2. bgstephenson says:

    Hi Leah,
    This looks like a fantastic research topic, both because it’s really interesting and relevant to people our age, and because it could really prompt real positive change in the current education system. I’m curious: did any of your interviewees talk about Alcohol Edu, the online education program we got coming into William and Mary as freshmen? A lot of freshmen I was speaking to this week cracking jokes about it, but I’m curious how many people that really stuck with after orientation.