College freshmen are more likely than ever to be left-wing, atheist loners who spend increasingly more time on the internet than partying with friends, an annual study has found.
Just 18% of students arriving at college in 2014 spent more than 16 hours per week socializing with friends, compared to 37.9% in 1987, according to the report from UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute. The number of incoming students spending less than five hours a week among friends has more than doubled, from 18.1% in 1987 to 38.8% in 2014.
Worse still, students are apparently losing the fight for their right to party. "Between 1987 and 2014, students who party less than an hour a week increased from 24.3% to 61.4%, with 41.3% reporting they did not party at all," the report found. "Over the same time frame, students who report partying six hours or more per week declined from 34.5% to 8.6%."
"It seems students are neglecting their social lives in lieu of focusing on their academic lives, perhaps in part because of the messages they've been sent for a number of years — for some, since elementary school — about the importance of getting into a good college," Kevin Eagan, assistant professor in residence at UCLA, told Bloomberg Business.
With this decline in partying, it's not surprising that drug and alcohol use has also dropped substantially to their lowest reported levels in 30 years. While almost three quarters of students in 1981 admitted to "frequently" or "occasionally" drinking beer, that number declined last year to 33.5%. The use of wine, hard liquor, and tobacco has also dropped significantly.
Instead of hanging out in the quad or kicking it at keggers, incoming college freshmen are content doing most of their socializing online: The number of students who spend more than six hours per week on online social networks has ballooned from 18.9% in 2007 to 27.2%.
Alarmingly though, mental health problems are on the rise on American college campuses, with the proportion of students who indicated that they "frequently" feel depressed rising to 9.5%, up 3.4% from a 2009 low.
The report also found that 27.5% of incoming students indicated they had no religion, up from 15.4% in 1971.
Despite the drop in partying in favor of time on Netflix and BuzzFeed, one thing never changes though: college campuses are as reliable as ever in being a haven for left-wing politics. Support for same-sex marriage stands at 81.5% among incoming students, while just over two-thirds of new full-time students "agreed somewhat" or "agreed strongly" that the government needs to do more to combat climate change.
We know what Homer Simpson would think of all this.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at email@example.com.
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