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How To Use CollegeAIM

Now that you have a basic understanding of CollegeAIM and how it can help you select evidence-based interventions, you’re ready to start using it. This section offers instructions on how to work your way through the guide and make the best use of its features.

Before using CollegeAIM: Briefly assess the problems on your campus.

Webinar: “The Updated College Alcohol Intervention Matrix (CollegeAIM): What Colleges and Communities Need to Know Now” – April 16, 2021
Sponsored by NIAAA and the International Town & Gown Association (ITGA)

The first step for effective intervention programming is to understand the nature of alcohol-related problems on your campus and answer the question, “What do we need to focus on now?” Consider how alcohol problems manifest themselves at your school. What do they look like? For example, are there problems with your Greek system? In your first-year residence halls? In off-campus student housing? Are there issues related to retail establishments in your neighborhood? Are there fights and vandalism at your school’s athletic events? Do most problems occur at certain times of day or on certain days of the week? In short, what are the times, places, and subgroups that give rise to alcohol-related harm? While there may not be an intervention tailored to your specific issue in these matrices, knowing where your biggest problem areas are will help you choose wisely from the tested interventions presented here.

To help zero in on your school’s most pressing needs, you can consult with colleagues and key stakeholders who can provide data along with informal reports. A collaborative process to assess your campus needs will yield the best results. It’s important to do some research to inform your decisions, but do not get so bogged down that you lose momentum.

For information about developing a manageable system for assessing and monitoring alcohol-related problems on your campus, please see the Supporting Resources and the Frequently Asked Questions.

As you plan, it is also a good idea to be aware of the state and local alcohol laws and policies in your community. For details about alcohol-related policies at the state level, visit NIAAA’s Alcohol Policy Information System.

Consult the matrices.

Once you have outlined your school's needs, CollegeAIM can help you:

  1. Inventory and rate your current strategies: First, list basic information and notes about your current strategies on the Strategy Planning Worksheet. Next, check the Individual-Level Strategies and Environmental-Level Strategies to see how your current interventions fare in terms of effectiveness, costs (including staff time), and other criteria of interest to you. Add this information to the Strategy Planning Worksheet.
  2. Consider alternative strategies: Next, compare your strategies to other interventions in the matrices to see if any different, effective approaches might replace some of your existing strategies or be added to your overall plan. Add key information about potential new strategies to the Strategy Planning Worksheet.

As you review your list of potential interventions, remember that no single strategy is likely to be sufficient to address college student drinking and the problems it causes. In general, using a combination of individual and environmental strategies is recommended. Thus, the task is to put together a manageable mix of strategies that fits your school’s priorities and your budget.

Make a plan and put it into action.

With information on your school’s needs and current activities, and the results from CollegeAIM summarized on your Strategy Planning Worksheet, you can outline and execute plans to implement specific strategies on your campus, measure the results, and review and refine your practices.

For additional guidance and information on these steps, see the Supporting Resources, where you’ll find links to help you implement many of the strategies rated as effective in CollegeAIM.

Although there is no simple solution to the problem of harmful and underage college drinking, choosing your interventions wisely, with help from CollegeAIM, boosts your odds of success by ensuring that you are using credible, evidence-based information to guide your decisions.

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