It's actually not how much you drink, but how you drink it.
Photo via Flickr user mr.5/4™.
"Binge-drinking" is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as four or more alcoholic drinks within two hours by a woman and five or more alcoholic drinks within two hours by a man. That sounds like a pretty normal couple of hours for a typical (or at least stereotypical) college student.
Now, thanks to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, we have a better idea of how the normalized behavior of college binge drinking can affect a student's ability to get a job down the line, which is ostensibly the reason they're in college in the first place. By looking at data from a sample of 827 graduates from Cornell, the University of Washington, the University of Florida, and the University of Michigan, researchers found that "heavy drinking" six times a month will reduce a college student's probability of landing job after graduation by 10 percent.
Authors claimed that previous studies were "unable to determine the precise effect of alcohol consumption on first-time employment," and they found that each individual episode of student binge-drinking during a month-long period lowers the odds of attaining full-time employment upon graduation by 1.4 percent. What's more, they found that a "non-binge pattern of drinking" does not adversely impact job search results unless and until their drinking reaches binge levels.
"A student who binge-drinks four times a month has a 6 percent lower probability of finding a job than a student who does not engage in similar drinking habits. Those students who drank heavily six times a month increased their unemployment probability to 10 percent," author Peter Bamberger of Tel Aviv University's Coller School of Business Management and Cornell University said in a press release. "The manner in which students drink appears to be more influential than how much they drink when it comes to predicting the likelihood of getting a job upon graduation."
In other words, it's not how many drinks you have, but in how much time you drink those drinks, that seems to be a predictor of future employment. And with a Millennial job market that seems split between very boring and very "non-traditional," it's safe to say the the stakes are high when it comes to employment after studying at a university.
At the very least, the economic stakes are high enough for the NIAAA to invest $2.2 million in this research, via a grant that will also fund a five-year study looking into how alcohol "misuse" affects the college-to-work transition for more than 16,000 participants.
This all might explain that guy furiously scribbling on a clipboard while he watches you do keg stands—or that botched interview the summer after you don your cap and gown.