SAN JOSE: College life is not just about drinking beer. In a rare instance, Apple Computer's iconic iPod personal music player surpassed beer drinking as the most "in" thing among undergraduate college students in the U.S., as per the biannual market research study by New Jersey-based Student Monitor.

Nearly three quarters, or 73 per cent, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were "in" more than any other item in a list that included text messaging, bar hopping and downloading music. In the year-ago study, only 59 per cent 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 website, were tied for second most popular, with 71 per cent of 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 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," he said. AP