College student alcohol use and associated negative consequences are clear public health problems with consequences including damage to self, others, and institutions. This paper describes the protocol of a research study designed to answer a number of important questions in the development of an adaptive preventive intervention (API) to reduce high-risk drinking among first-year college students. The API is designed to educate students and to motivate heavy-drinking college students to engage in existing resources to support reducing high-risk alcohol use, by leveraging technology-based intervention modalities. The primary outcome is a reduction in binge drinking, with secondary outcomes of reducing negative alcohol-related consequences and increasing health services utilization. Adaptive preventive interventions have the potential to reduce the acute and long-term negative health consequences of young adult alcohol use.