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.