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MU Study Finds that Friday Class Schedules Influence Drinking Habits

June 25, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Psychology researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have identified at least one reason why college students consume excessive amounts of alcohol on Thursdays — the timing of their Friday classes.

Phillip K. Wood, professor of quantitative psychology in the College of Arts and Science's Department of Psychological Sciences, said Friday class schedules may contribute to weekend-like drinking behaviors which begin on "thirsty Thursday." Wood collaborated with Kenneth J. Sher and Patricia C. Rutledge of MU's Midwest Alcoholism Research Center. Sher is a Curators' professor of clinical psychology at MU.

Findings from the study, which examine college students' daily alcohol consumption, indicate that students who don't take Friday classes consume twice as much alcohol on Thursday as those with early Friday classes. Wood said men who drank at least one drink on Thursday consumed an average of six to 7.5 drinks in relation to their Friday class loads. Women consumed an average of four to five drinks. The higher averages were most evident among men and members of the Greek system or those who participated in Greek activities.

"Approximately two-thirds of students who consumed some alcohol Thursday consumed a binge amount if they had late or no Friday classes," Wood said.

Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more for women.

To remedy the problem, Wood said, colleges should require students to enroll in early classes - before 10 a.m. - on Fridays. The study was prompted after a national task force offered recommendations to college administrators for reducing alcohol usage on campus. The focus on Friday classes, as well as possibly scheduling Saturday classes, was one of several suggestions.

"There are many programs on university campuses to reduce drinking," he said. "Having more Friday classes, early Friday classes or tests on Friday seem to be a pretty cost-effective way of reducing college drinking. Essentially, your academic class schedule starts to interfere with that drinking behavior."

In determining drinking patterns, the team of researchers monitored the drinking habits of 3,341 undergraduate students. Over a four-year period, pre-college and Web-based surveys were administered in the fall and spring semesters. The data were merged with student academic transcripts and academic schedules. Each participant also provided a weekly self-report of their drinking habits for each of the eight semesters.

The researchers found that Thursday, Friday and Saturday also are associated with high levels of alcohol consumption across all four years of college.

The study, "College Student Alcohol Consumption, Day of the Week, and Class Schedule," was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and will be published in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.