Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Sociologist studies the impact of substance use on college graduation

Sociologist studies the impact of substance use on college graduation

JUNE 21, 2021 — Earning a college degree is one way to achieve social mobility. This is especially true for someone from a lower socioeconomic background looking to raise social status according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

However, there are barriers that can hinder a student’s path to complete a degree.

Recognizing the distinctive barriers that some first-generation students face, Raymond Swisher, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at UTSA, looked at the link between the college party subculture and its negative impact on graduation rates among first-generation students.


“Engaging in the campus party subculture is potentially risky for all youth.”



Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health that followed thousands of adolesents from across the United States over several years, Swisher examined predictors of substance use among college students and its consequences for subsequent graduation with a four-year degree. The study revealed that a student’s socioeconomic background can protect against the consequences of substance use.

“One concerning aspect of college life and a potential challenge is the prevalence of substance use among college students,” Swisher stated. “Substance abuse has hindered graduation rates and led many universities to reconsider the impact that the party subculture has on student wellbeing.”

Recent qualitative research suggests that substance use may be particularly detrimental for first-generation students. As the first in their family to earn a college degree, the path to graduation is often made more difficult by circumstances such as working long hours and living with parents, as well as an unfamiliar college environment.

Swisher’s research showed that continuing-generation students (those whose parents also have college degrees) are more likely to engage in substance use—most notably binge drinking and marijuana use—than first-generation students.

Such behavior, however, was more likely to negatively impact the graduation rates of first-generation students, who face additonal stressors unlike their peers. For more advantaged continuing-generation students, the party subculture had less of an effect on their graduation prospects.

“Engaging in the campus party subculture is potentially risky for all youth,” Swisher said. “At the same time, it likely reflects a desire for a sense of belonging among one’s peers.”

To address this issue, Swisher suggests that universities should not ignore this desire for social integration, and consider alternative ways to provide students opportunities to make connections with each other that do not carry the risks of substance use.

Ingrid Wright



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


Events


Spotlight

Spotlight

dtc-utsa-sign_680.png
University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.