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Deviant Behavior of College Freshman


Deviant behavior among college students has caused concern among stakeholders in the educational sector. Sometimes this behavior may be extreme, creating risk among the affected student or their schoolmates. Many institutions have been grappling with this problem over the years, especially among freshmen. When newly enrolled in schools, these students always find themselves in a new environment that needs a different approach to thinking and behavior (Anderson, 2014). Some of them would respond positively to these changes, while others tend to be violent in their response. This research seeks to investigate the causes of this behavior and the possible impact on learners and other stakeholders.

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Project Timeline

It is important to clearly define the timeline for this research project to define the time available for various activities. This project has to be completed within six weeks. The Gantt chart below shows some of the important activities in this project and their timeline.

Timeline of the Activities in Project
Timeline of the Activities in Project.

As shown in the above Gantt chart, this process is expected to take ten weeks to be complete. Each of the activities has a set timeline, but some of them can be completed within a shorter period. It is important to note that the weekends have not been considered as working days. This means that a week has only five working days. In the first week, the main activity will be problem identification. In the second week, the researcher will review the relevant literature. The third stage will be data collection. Data analysis will be the fourth step, while a summary of the findings will be the final stage of this research project.

Problem Statement

Time spent at college is seen as one of the most exciting periods of a person’s life. However, this period is also associated with deviant behavior among freshmen who are exposed to a variety of issues. In the first place, they may be overloaded by academic tasks. At the same time, this period is seen as the first year of freedom and, hence, freshmen may try to have new experiences, but such inclinations tend to result in such issues as pregnancy, diseases, fights, which, in their turn, lead to expulsion.

Freshmen can be regarded as the most vulnerable group of students as they are not experienced enough to develop proper behavioral patterns. More so, they deem that their new status is their chance to be truly free and responsible for their behavior though they often prove to be irresponsible (Hickson & Roebuck, 2009). Ford and Schroeder (2009) stress that the first year in college is also a period when students try illicit drugs, which is young people’s response to considerable academic load and peer pressure. Young people are often unable to control themselves and act violently. Furthermore, peer pressure and neglect of major rules may cause freshmen to engage in sexual intercourse without paying attention to the consequences.

The researcher works at a junior college and would witness these deviant behaviors each day. The researcher also understands that young people get into more trouble than they can handle and they need assistance. Admittedly, we are responsible for providing proper conditions for our students but we also have to guide them and help them cope with (or avoid) a variety of issues. We have to help freshmen obtain the necessary experience to make them ready for further load in the following years.

It is necessary to note that deviant behavior among freshmen is a serious problem that has to be handled. This behavior often leads to disease, pregnancy, and fights that result in expulsion. This is a serious issue that has to be handled to ensure that young people will be able to obtain higher education and will also land a well-paid job.

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In this study, those who will be studied are freshmen in the selected colleges. The focus of the study will be to determine what the causes of deviant behavior are, the impact, and how it can be addressed. The researcher will also determine why the behavior is common among the youth. The research process will begin on the 25th of August to the 6th of October.

Literature Review

Peer influence and the freedom enjoyed by college students have created a social dilemma due to the emergence of behaviors that contravene the social norm. Such behaviors, otherwise known as deviant behaviors, are defined as a set of practices or approaches to life that go against the existing set of norms (Bryant, 1990). The growth of deviant behavior in college students has been associated with several biological, environmental, and social factors inherent within the institutions. Though behavioral deviance is affected by time and place, college freshmen have adopted a fairly uniform sociological behavioral pattern (Leppel, 2006).

Deviant behavior is directly responsible for poor academic performance, substance abuse, and increased student involvement in criminal activities (Anderson, 2014). In most instances, students have engaged in activities such as binge drinking, body piercing, hard substance abuse among other criminal activities as a result of deviance in their behaviors (Leppel, 2006). This literature review will analyze several scholarly publications and books on deviant behaviors in college freshmen. The sources reviewed will be grouped based on the nature of deviant behaviors tackled, the method of investigation, and the similarity in their findings.

An examination of the articles that will be reviewed shows that deviant behavior is associated with substance abuse in college freshmen. For example, most of the articles have categorized binge drinking as a direct cause of deviant behavior in students. In most instances as demonstrated in the articles, substance abuse arises as a result of the protest among students against academic or family issues.

Deviant Behavior and Substance Abuse in College Freshmen

Most of the articles have categorized binge drinking as a direct impact of deviant behavior in students (Anderson, 2014). As demonstrated in the articles, in most instances, substance abuse is triggered as a direct response of a student to numerous academic or family issues (Daniel, 2001). An increase in deviant behaviors has been associated with an increase in substance abuse among college students across the United States. Several literature sources that examined the relationship between deviant behavior and increased substance abuse in college freshmen have been reviewed (Anderson, 2014).

Hickson and Roebuck (2009) analyzed the relationship that exists between increased substance abuse in college freshmen and deviant behaviors. They found that deviant behaviors may vary from one college freshman to another, but have a common denominator of showing rebellious attitude. For example, most college freshmen engage in activities such as skipping classes, stealing from colleagues, starting a fire within the school compound, and the destruction of property. In this study, freshmen from Virginia Commonwealth University were engaged in quantitative research. In their study, Hickson and Roebuck (2009) explain that a correlation exists between deviant behavior and the frequency of substance abuse among college freshmen.

In Leppel (2006), the impact of deviant and mainstream behavior in influencing college binge drinking in freshmen was evaluated. By examining the issue of binge drinking from the two different cultures, Leppel (2006) showed the role of deviant behavior in guiding this development in college freshmen. Using the logistic (“logic”) regression, Leppel (2006) explored the impacts that different cultural factors had in controlling this behavior in college freshmen.

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In this article, the genesis of deviant behavior among college freshmen was evaluated. Contrary to the common perception of people, deviant behavior in college freshmen did not begin after admission into the institution. Instead, the cultural setting and environment that a freshman had been exposed to as a teenager influenced the stability of their behavior and willingness to engage in such activities as binge drinking.

Likewise, Anderson (2014) addressed the key concepts of deviant behavior and the factors causing it. According to the author, deviant behavior among most teenagers rarely goes beyond copying some of the elements of celebrities’ style, including tattoos, piercing, clothes, etc. The author notes that paying little attention to the innuendoes hidden behind the stylistic choices of their idols; teenagers copy a large variety of behaviors (Anderson, 2014).

For example, the aforementioned tattoos can be attributed to a vast variety of cultures. However, it is even more intriguing that teenagers not only copy the aforementioned elements of style, thus, defining the very concept of deviant behavior, but also alter the specifics of culture that these elements of style are attributed. As a result, rebellious teenagers alter the reputation of the tattooed “from that of criminal and laborers to that of artists and free thinkers” (Anderson, 2014). The transformation is truly fascinating; more to the point, it makes one wonder whether the notorious dependency of teenagers on fads is the evidence of teenagers’ suggestibility.

Instead, the phenomenon in question can be viewed as the ability of teenagers to transform the symbols of the existing cultures into something entirely new. Though the idea might seem alluring, it is still worth admitting that the transformations, which delinquent teenagers make to specific symbols of other cultures, are still enhanced by the role models foisted onto young people by modern media. Therefore, either way, the so-called rebellion of teenagers is, in fact, a result of careful manipulations of corporations promoting a certain teenager lifestyle to cash in on teenagers’ naivety (Anderson, 2014).

Durkin, Wolfe, and Clark (1999) approached the issue of deviant behavior from the perspective of the social bond theory to define how the specified type of behavior affects the development of binge drinking in college freshmen. Several social variables affect the development of deviant behavior traits in college freshmen, and their involvement in binge drinking can be viewed as one of these variables since environmental factors have a direct correlation with the rates of deviant behavior among teenagers.

This will reduce the likelihood of their engaging in substance abuse-related activities such as binge drinking. In the development of young people, Durkin, Wolfe, and Clark (1999) argued that family attachment and a strong relationship are of primary importance. Ham and Hope (2003) identified a connection between increased drinking problems in college students and deviant behaviors. In this study, major psychological forces that influence binge drinking among college students are analyzed. These include demographic variables, family history, and social challenges, among other motives that are related to the development of deviant behaviors.

Deviant Behavior and Self-injury

To express their dissatisfaction with the system, the environment, or the academic issues, as well as the issues related to relationships with teachers, deviant college freshmen often consider self-injury as deviant behavior. Consequently, students use piercing, tattooing, and related techniques to manifest their protest against the system (Anderson, 2014).

In Koch, Roberts, Armstrong, and Owen (2010), the links between body art, piercing, self-harm, and deviant behaviors among college freshmen were examined. This examination was done with a background comparison to the impact of media on fresh college students. Based on the sub-cultural theory, Koch et al. (2010) noted that students who indulge in self-injury and body piercing are more likely to have deviant behaviors.

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In such a case, students need assistance to resist the subculture notion of beauty that is foisted on them. To test this proposition, Koch et al. (2010) surveyed 1753 American college students, who were required to provide a report on their history of deviant behaviors. They realized that peer pressure was the main reason why youths engaged in such acts. The researchers legalized that with proper counseling, this problem can be solved.

High School Origin of College Freshmen Deviant Behavior

In Daniel (2001), the role of technology and the internet is reshaping the perception of high school students before joining college is evaluated. The background that students acquire from high school significantly affects their attitude and behavior during the freshman stage in college. Daniel (2001) interrogated the role that technology plays in shaping the development of deviant behaviors among college freshmen while they do their final year in high school. He realized that exposure to the internet at eaageages was one of the factors that motivated deviant behavior among the youth.

Sunstein (2000) interrogated the link between high school deviant behaviors and ian ncrease in substance abuse among college freshmen. According to Sunstein, deviant behaviors are manifested at an early age and do not necessarily begin from college. In this study, the duo interrogated the impact of deviant behaviors among high school students once they join college. The deviant behaviors considered by Sunstein (2000) are related to the symptoms of conduct disorder.

Just like in Sunstein (2000), Bryant (1990) evaluated the relationship between deviant behaviors in high school students and how this spills into freshmen college students. The prevalence of deviant behavior within the college setup was assessed, and the factors that affected their growth or decline were shown. A total of 175 college students from Wooster College were engaged in the study that looked at their engagement in criminal activities among other deviant behaviors. Parental care, peer pressure, and access to the internet were identified to be the leading factors that influenced deviant behavior.

Comparison of the Articles Reviewed

Most of the articles that have been reviewed in this paper have focused on the causes of deviant behavior more college students. Leppel (2006), Durkin, Wolfe and, Clark (1999,) and Ham and Hope (2003) have focused on the relationship between deviant behavior and substance abuse in college freshmen. Though the aims of these four papers are common, the approach that they have adopted is significantly different. For example, Sunstein (2000) used a quantitative research approach in which students from a single university were surveyed. Despite the variation in the approaches adopted for the surveys, these articles have provided a link between binge drinking and substance abuse with deviant behavior.

Koch et al. (2010) have examined a different social practice that is common in deviant college freshmen. Based on these two articles, students with disturbing backgrounds are more likely to resort to self-harm to show their frustration with the established system. Such behaviors include body piercing, self-harm, tattoos among other body art. Such behaviors are indicative of the level of deviance in the student and are directly associated with their social background.

Deviant Behavior and its Regulation

Deviant behavior is, unfortunately, not new to the legal system of the United States; consequently, a range of legal papers shed some light on the problem, as well as provide means for addressing it. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (1974), though comparatively old, not only outlines the key types of juvenile delinquent behavior, but also suggests efficient measures for addressing the increasing rates of crime among youth. The specified act must create the premises for correcting the behavior of delinquent adolescents instead of imprisoning them and, therefore, depriving them of the opportunity to integrate back into society.

The Prevention of Serious and Violent Juvenile Offending Act (2000), in its turn, is a more recent legal document, which provides essential information regarding juvenile crimes and, therefore, serves as means of raising awareness among the U.S. population. This document outlines what may be classified as a criminal offense, and measures that can be taken to ensure that youths do not engage in them. A thorough analysis of the phenomenon and an efficient guide to juvenile crimes prevention, this paper is a decent update on one of the most topical issues in modern U.S. society.

Alcohol abuse, rape, and deviant behavior are common among college freshmen as reported by Koch et al. (2010). Based on the sub-cultural theory, Koch et al. (2010) noted that students, who embrace self-harm and body piercing are more likely to have deviant behaviors. In this research, the primary psychosocial factors that determine the development of a drinking problem in college students are examined.

These include demographic variables, family history, and social challenges, among other motives that are related to the development of deviant behaviors. Koch et al. (2010) report that deviant behavior has roots in college experiences, and this makes freshmen more susceptible. From this review, the role of deviant behavior in the emergence of criminal activities among college freshmen is evident. However, the genesis of deviance in students remains a controversial issue as none of the articles reviewed has exhaustively addressed the issue. Consequentially, research should focus on the determination of the genesis of deviant behaviors in high schools and colleges.

Data Collection Plan

When conducting a research process, it is always important to come up with an effective data collection plan that would help in coming up with an appropriate conclusion. According to Powell (2010), when defining research methods, it is important to determine the nature of the data required based on the research topic. In this section, the researcher will define the type of data to be collected, and the instruments used in the data collection process.

Type of Data to Collect

In this study, the researcher was keen on identifying the most appropriate research method that would give the desired result. The researcher used a mixed method because both qualitative and quantitative methods were important in this research. The quantitative research method is a kind of study that uses figures to arrive at certain conclusions. This research will take the form of a survey, which means that the researcher will identify the sample population and request an interview.

A survey was considered an appropriate method because of the population that was targeted in this study. It demands a method that is objective and able to generalize the findings statistically. The quantitative method would be one of the most appropriate approaches to use in this research (Vogt, 2007).

The quantitative research method involves the systematic empirical study of a given phenomenon by the use of statistical tools (Powell, 2010). The main objective is always to use mathematical models and theories to develop its generalization. For this reason, the quantitative method was considered to be the most appropriate. It would make it possible for the researcher to test for the validity of the research. The quantitative research method would also help in the statistical determination of any relationship between the deviant behavior of the college freshmen, and some of the environmental factors that could have caused this behavior.

Qualitative research methods were used to explain issues about ethnography. Qualitative research methods explain why a given pattern of events or phenomena has taken place the way they have. On the other hand, quantitative research methods explain the what and when of a given phenomenon. In this study, it is important to define what deviant behavior is, and the factors that cause it among college freshmen. It was also necessary to explain what the impact of such behavior is to the freshmen and other people within the immediate environment. The researcher wanted to know the factors that make the behavior common among the freshmen.

Plan for Collecting the Data

Primary data for this research will be collected from a probability sample of participants who will include students, teachers, and psychologists who can explain why some behavioral pattern of some students is considered unique. This data will be collected with the help of a survey. The scope of data collection will be limited to the three categories of individuals. This is because of the time that was available for the research and the ability of these groups of people to respond to the questions with some sense of authority. Because most of the participants are Americans, they clearly understood the social structure of the American society and, therefore, were in a position to respond appropriately to questions regarding the issue of deviant behavior among college freshmen in American society.

They also understood how this affected the performance of the students. In this survey, the researcher will interview the selected participants. The participants will be selected randomly from participating colleges. The researcher will use both open-ended and closed-ended questions. The research also used data from existing literature about the deviant behavior among college freshmen in American society or other similar societies around the world. The level of accuracy needed in this research would be achieved within this scope.

Additional Resources Needed for the Study

It is necessary to clearly state all the resources needed to make this research project a success. Other than the six weeks needed for the study, it will be necessary to have financial resources to support the process of collecting and analyzing data. The final document should be printed, and this too will require some money. The researcher will write a letter to the institutional heads seeking consent to interview teachers and students selected in the study.

Data Analysis Method

Data analysis refers to the process of transforming raw data into refined useful information that can be of use to people. Powell (2010) advises that before settling on a method of data analysis, it is important to understand the approach to be taken by the research. The research can take a quantitative, qualitative, or categorical approach. This research took a quantitative approach. Depending on the type and accuracy needed, data analysis can take a simple descriptive form or a more complex statistical inferencing (Vogt, 2007). In selecting the appropriate method, a researcher should ensure that assumptions relating to the method are satisfied (Powell, 2010).

In analyzing the collected data, the researcher will use appropriate statistical data analysis tools such as descriptive and inferential statistics in analyzing quantitative data. About the quantitative analysis, Wamia (2005) argued that the most commonly used sets of statistics include meaning, frequencies, standard deviation, median, and percentages. However, this research will only focus on the percentages. The researcher will code and enter the quantitative data into a spreadsheet. Using the spreadsheet, the researcher will try to determine the common views of the participants on the issue under investigation.

The researcher will specifically be focused on identifying some of the common factors associated with deviant behavior among college freshmen, and how this may affect their academic life. Of importance during the analysis will also be some of the common impacts of deviant behavior to other stakeholders such as fellow students, teachers, even the parents or guardians.

The researcher will use descriptive statistics in some of the cases that may require this to describe the properties of the target population. Further, the researcher will use tables, figures, and charts to present the findings of the study to enhance clarity for the people who will use this document. This is a simple research work that will not involve complex mathematical tools and methods. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software may be appropriate in this study. However, it will not be necessary for this study because most of the calculation and data generation will be done using a spreadsheet.

Inferential statistics like chi-square tests, inferential analysis, and co-relational analysis that may require complex mathematical processes will not be useful in this simple research process. When presenting the data using tables, charts, and figures, it is important to incorporate some explanations to support the figures. For this reason, the questions that will be sent to the respondents will have some open-ended questions such as the reasons why college freshmen engage in deviant behavior. While the data obtained from the closed-ended questions will be coded for mathematical analysis, the data obtained from open-ended questions will help in explaining the statistics. This makes it easy to understand the statistical presentations in the research.


In this research, it will be important to contact the participants before sending them the questionnaires. It is ethical to inform the participants of the intended research, and its importance to the researcher. This makes them prepared to take part in the study.

The participants need to know why their responses are needed. The participants will also be informed about the protection of their identity. Many people speak freely when they know that their statements will not cause consequences such as victimization. For this reason, it is expected that many of them will be willing to participate in the study if they are informed that their identity will not be revealed. This is an ethical requirement that must be fulfilled in this study. The researcher will explain to them that this research is specifically meant for academic purposes.


Anderson, T. L. (2014). Understanding deviance: Connecting classical and contemporary perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bryant, C. D. (1990). Deviant behavior: Readings in the sociology of norm violations. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Daniel, A. (2001). An exploration of middle and high school students’ perception of deviant behavior when using a computer and the internet. The Journal of Technology Studies, 2(12), 345-350.

Durkin, K., T. Wolfe, and G. Clark. (1999). Social bond theory and binge drinking among college students: A multivariate analysis. College Student Journal, 33(3), 450-461.

Ford, J.A., & Schroeder, R.D. (2009). Academic strain and non-medical use of prescription stimulants among college students. Deviant Behavior, 30(1), 26-53.

Ham, L. & Hope, D. (2003). College students and problematic drinking: A review of the literature. Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 719-759.

Hickson, M., & Roebuck, J. B. (2009). Deviance and crime in colleges and universities: What goes on in the halls of ivy? New York, NY: Charles C Thomas Publisher.

Hickson, M., & Roebuck, J.B. (2009). Deviance and crime in colleges and universities: What goes on in the Halls of Ivy. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher.

Koch, J., Roberts, A., Armstrong, M. & Owen, D. (2010). Body art, deviance, and American college students. Social Science Journal, 47(4), 151-161.

Leppel, K. (2006). College binge drinking: deviant versus mainstream behavior. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 32(4), 519-525. Web.

Powell, G. (2010). Understanding Quantitative Research Methods. London: SAGE.

Sunstein, C. (2000). Deliberative trouble? Why do groups go to extremes? The Yale law journal, 110(71), 71-119.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. (1974). Web.

The prevention of serious and violent juvenile offending. (2000). Web.

Vogt, P. (2007). Quantitative Research Methods for Professionals Author. New York: Pearson.

Wamia, G. (2005). Quantitative research methods. Lanham: University Press of America.

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