Alcohol involvement and participation in residential learning communities among first-year college students

Sean Esteban McCabe, Carol J. Boyd, James A. Cranford, Janie Slayden, James E. Lange, Mark B. Reed, Julie M. Ketchie, Marcia S. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Residential learning communities (RLCs) on U.S. college campuses are assumed to build connections between formal learning opportunities and students' living environment. The objective of this longitudinal study was to examine the association between living in RLCs and alcohol misuse among first-year undergraduate students. Method: A Web-based survey was self-administered to a stratified random sample of 923 first-year undergraduate students (52.7% women) attending a large Midwestern research university. The sample included 342 students who lived and participated in RLCs (termed RLC) and 581 students who did not participate in RLCs (termed non-RLC). First-year students were asked about their drinking behaviors before college, during their first semester, and approximately 6 months later during their second semester. Results: RLC students reported lower rates of drinking than non-RLC students before college. RLC students reported lower rates of drinking and fewer alcohol-related consequences than non-RLC students during the first and second semesters. Maximum drinks in 1 day increased from precollege to first semester, and this increase was larger among non-RLC students than RLC students. The number of drinks per occasion and alcohol-related consequences increased between first semester and second semester for all students regardless of RLC status. Conclusions: Lower rates of alcohol misuse among RLC students predate their entrance into college, and the increase in drinking from precollege to first semester is lower in magnitude among RLC students. RLCs' influence involves selection and socialization processes. These findings have implications for prevention and intervention efforts aimed at incoming first-year undergraduate students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-726
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


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