Historiann, reporting on a surprising-to-me finding that (when taken with the usual grains of salt) suggests that the best predictor of college grade point average is... time spent drinking.
Does anyone look back on their college years and wish they had engaged in more drinking? For more than a decade, I’ve heard from current college students that the reason they “party hard” now is that they think that after graduation, their access to friendship and alcohol will suddenly dry up, and they’ll never have fun again. (I’ve written here about what an impoverished view of adulthood this is, and how it saddens me. Is it just the narcissism of youth and the students’ inability to more creatively imagine what they might be like as adults, or is evidence of the absence of meaningful inner lives among most American adults?)
She's mentioned this before, and for that matter I've linked to her when she's mentioned it. But that's because it's a really, really important point! For the record I don't think it's narcissism as much as simply growing up without a lot of good modeling of what adulthood is really like. And not to put too fine a point on it but having once been a child and now being a parent of children I think it's as bad an idea to get your ideas about adulthood from watching your parents' behavior around you as it would be to get your sex-ed instruction from watching your parents. For better or worse our behavior when our parents were interacting with us, or our behavior when we interact with our children, is not really representative of real adult behavior either whether that's outside the home, at parties or gatherings of friends, or in the bedroom.
That's not so say we just keep driving the porcelain bus after the kids are down. But neither do we just sit around and snip at each other about money or snip at our children, and each other, about chores and homework.
That's even presupposing that we marry, settle down, buy houses, and have children immediately after college. Which, increasingly, we don't.
In retrospect I've noticed we also don't immediately die of arthritis and wrinkles either. I was not immediately clear about this when I was the age most people go to college, and I'm pretty sure I was not the only young person who's ever made that mistake.