Blog Post 14: The Journey Thus Far

Everyone that has ever had to decide on a research topic knows that it can be a struggle. Of course there are a lot of factors that go into making that decision as well. Is it something that I am interested in? Would my audience be interested in it? Would I have a strong opinion about the issue? Luckily, my classmates and I were giving a guideline at the beginning of the semester: Choose a topic that is related to your major. My major happens to be Hospitality Management, which left me with many options: hotels, restaurants, bars, any issues that affected the industry, etc. As I am a senior in my major, I decided to narrow my research topic into the field that I would like to work, Beverage Management. I brainstormed for a good week, and multiple classes, on all the possible issues that would be interesting to write about. Eventually I settled on the most controversial of the bunch: Should the drinking age be 21?
In the beginning of my research I hit a bump in the road rather quickly. Know matter what database I was using there was a surprising lack of articles that specifically addressed the United States drinking age policy. Because of this I had to think of another way to address my research. In other words, what topics relating to alcohol could I utilize for my research question? Slowly different ideas began coming to me. I could look at alcohol policies relating to age in different countries, how alcohol effects the body both short term and long term, underage drinking and colleges, etc. Once I found these other topics, that I would easily be able to use for my research, articles came out of the wood works. Of course now that I had all of these articles to choose from I had to begin reading through them in order to learn if each article could be of use and if I wanted to use it. Can you say time consuming?
This is where I hit my second obstacle, finding the time and motivation to go through the articles. I, like many students, am a very busy person. I have two part time jobs and I am very involved in my major. So taking the time to read through articles that I may not end up using was, can we say, less than thrilling? However, when push comes to shove, it is just one of those things that you have to grin and bare. So I began reading the articles. It was a slow process at first, but the more I read the more I was able to further tailor my research. I was rather surprised at what I was learning. For example in 2008 there was actually a movement to lower the drinking age to 18. At the time I was a junior in high school and had no idea until I read this article. My time in college definitely could have been different if that had been successful. Within the articles that I did read I also found a lack of evidence as to how raising the drinking age to 21 has benefited United States citizens. Not that it shows that we should lower the drinking age but there has seemed to be a noticeable increase in underage drinking and a decrease in the age of first consumption. What is being done about that?
From my research I gathered that there are small initiatives that are attempting to make a difference. For every college freshman there is a require online alcohol education course that they must take in order to enroll in the next semester. There are also mandatory one on one courses that must be taken if an underage drinker gets caught violating any laws. My question is where is the overall prevention? One of these methods is preventative but only for college students, while the other is post incident. Why not have a system similar to driver’s education that educates high school students on all there is know about alcohol?
After having completed all of my research, the creation of that education system is precisely what I want to argue for in my final essay. There are multiple obstacles that must be climbed before ever considering the legal age of drinking, but a first step in correcting some problems would be to educate our young on the general knowledge of alcohol and all of the possible consequences that lie there in.

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