October 21, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston
Drinking lowers your GPA. So do smoking, spending time on the computer, and probably other forms of moral dissolution. That’s the conclusion of a survey of 10,000 students in Minnesota.
Inside Higher Ed reported it, as did the Minnesota press with titles like “Bad Habits = Bad Grades.” Chris Uggen reprints graphs of some of the “more dramatic results” (that’s the report’s phrase, not Chris’s). Here’s a graph of the effects of the demon rum.
Pretty impressive . . . if you don’t look too closely. But note: the range of the y-axis is from 3.0 to 3.5.
I’ve blogged before about “gee whiz” graphs , and I guess I’ll keep doing so as long as people keep using them. Here are the same numbers, but the graph below scales them on the traditional GPA scale of 0 to 4.0.
The difference is real – the teetotalers have a B+ average, heaviest drinkers a B. But is it dramatic?
I also would like finer distinctions in the independent variable, but maybe that’s because my glass of wine with dinner each night, six or seven a week, puts me in the top category with the big boozers. I suspect that the big differences are not between the one-drink-a-day students and the teetotalers but between the really heavy drinkers – the ones who have six drinks or more in a sitting, not in a week– and everyone else.