College students with low grades consume an average of 11 alcoholic drinks a week, three times the amount that members of the honor roll imbibe, researchers reported today.

The study, based on a survey of 56,000 students, also found that students at small schools are drinking more than those at larger schools, and men are more likely than women to go on heavy binges.Researchers from Southern Illinois University and the College of William and Mary analyzed survey results collected at 78 campuses during the 1989-90 school year.

The report is intended to help campus leaders understand the frequency of drug and alcohol use as they design programs to combat substance abuse.

"It's the largest sample that's ever been done," said researcher Cheryl A. Presley of Carbondale, Ill. "Here is the information for them to make better decisions."

Alcohol, as expected, is the drug of choice: 86 percent of respondents said they used it in the last year, and 45 percent said they drink on a weekly or more frequent basis.

Ten percent of students said they smoked marijuana once in the past year, and 6.1 percent said they used cocaine, the survey found.

Other drugs reported on campus included hallucinogens, amphetamines, sedatives and inhalants.

But Presley and colleague Philip W. Meilman said the most significant result is the link between low grades and booze.

Students who were getting Ds and Fs were averaging 10.8 drinks a week, while students with As were consuming 3.4 drinks.