College life is not just about drinking beer: In a rare instance, Apple Computer’s iconic iPod music player surpassed beer drinking as the most “in” thing among undergraduate college students, according to the latest biannual market research study by Ridgewood, N.J.-based Student Monitor. Nearly three quarters, or 73 percent, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were “in”–more than any other item in a list that also included text messaging, bar hopping, and downloading music.

In the year-ago study, only 59 percent of students named the iPod as “in,” putting the gadget well below alcohol-related activities.

This year, drinking beer and Facebook.com, a social networking web site, were tied for second most popular, with 71 percent of the students identifying them as “in.”

The only other time beer was temporarily dethroned in the 18 years of the survey was in 1997–by the internet, said Eric Weil, a managing partner at Student Monitor.

Though beer might soon regain its No. 1 spot, as it quickly did a decade ago, the iPod’s popularity is still “a remarkable sign,” Weil said. “For those who believe there’s an excessive amount of drinking on campus, now there’s something else that’s common on campuses.”

Student Monitor conducted the survey the week of March 6, interviewing full-time undergraduate students at 100 U.S. colleges. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

What’s “In” on Campus Spring ’06 Spring ’05 Spring ’04
iPods 73% 59% 22%
Drinking beer 71% 72% 75%
Facebook.com 71% NA NA
Drinking other alcohol

67% 65% 64%
Text messaging

66% 59% NA%
Downloading music 66% 65% 56%
Going to clubs/bars 65% 65% 70%
Instant messaging 63% 61% 67%
Coffee 60% 58% 58%
Working out 62% 62% 64%
MySpace.com 58% NA NA
Digital cameras 56% 59% NA
Attending movies 50% 51% NA

(Source: Student Monitor, 2006)

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