Although it may be hard to accept for some students, and probably most parents, part of the college experience is enjoying the social life that comes along with being enrolled in university – and this social life includes partying from time to time. Undergraduate students, students enrolled in school full time, or students who live on campus typically find their college social life to be extremely important. Knowing how to balance their social and academic lives, and how to navigate the party scene while in college is crucial to the overall success of each individual student.
During their college years, many people make lifelong friendships. They experience being out on their own and get the first taste of a real, adult social life. And along with those experiences comes some mature definitions of fun, including things like parties, going out to enjoy the local nightlife and clubs, drinking alcohol for the first time, and staying up till the wee hours of morning. These can all be good, memorable – and safe – experiences, if you know how to party smart.
Managing Your Personal and Social Time
Remember you are in college to learn above all else, so learning how to manage your personal and academic time is key to having a healthy, valuable and memorable college experience. Once you have figured out just how much personal time you have, choose one or two evenings to party or go out each month and reserve the rest of your personal time for tamer activities – hiking or biking, going to the movies or out to eat, joining a social club on campus or volunteering, taking an overnight trip to the mountains or beach with your buddies, or a day trip to the lake. You don’t have to spend all your personal time at parties or clubs to have a good time.
One way to stay on top of your academic and social commitments is to keep a calendar. Sure, a calendar will not account for those parties that just pop up or any spur of the moment social activities, but you can map out the big social events and commitments, the nights you know you plan on partying or going out. You’ll also be able to mark all of your upcoming project and paper due dates and highlight upcoming tests. When you’re deciding whether or not to go to a party on Friday night, check your calendar. If you have three papers due on Monday, partying till the wee hours of the morning on Friday is probably a bad idea.
A Little Bit Goes a Long Way
A little bit of partying can go a long way, in many ways. If you party too much, you will literally wear yourself out. Drinking every night, or even binge drinking every weekend, which is extremely dangerous and could even cost you your life, at the very least will add years to your personal health and make you feel physically and emotionally horrible. You’re not in college to get older or sick, take care of your body. Know your limits when drinking and sip your cocktails slowly. You don’t have to be drunk the moment you step into the club. If you pre-game, do it responsibly. Have a drink or two and then eat something before you head out for the night. If you overdo your partying and drinking you will be exhausted all the time, your body will feel sick and achy, you will be more likely to oversleep and miss classes or take naps instead of complete assignments, projects or do your studying. You could even develop a drinking problem.
If you have trouble knowing when enough is enough call on a friend you trust to hold you accountable and if you feel your partying is really getting out of control, do not be afraid to ask for help. Your advisors and professors, the college nurse or on campus counselor are all there to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Knowing When to Say No
It can be hard to say no – especially when you are in the moment. If you’re going to a party or out to the clubs and you know that you may take things too far – whether that’s drinking or staying out too late – take a friend with you to hold you accountable.
Most important, don’t do anything you are not comfortable with. You are allowed to say no just as much as you are allowed to say yes. Saying no is okay, and if you lose a friend over that simple word, they probably were not your friend to begin with. Don’t feel like you need to sacrifice your integrity and sense of worth, or step out of your comfort zone just because everyone else is doing it. Say no.
It’s also not your personal responsibility to attend every single social event on campus or off. You do not have to go to the club every single Friday and Saturday night. You do not need to succumb to fear of missing out. Those ‘epic parties’ will happen again and again. Set up your limits ahead of time and stick to them. Maybe you go to a couple parties a month and then once your limit is up, you take a break. If you’re falling behind in your classes, take a break! Don’t sacrifice all the hard work you put in to get yourself into the college of your dreams for a party and a night at the club.
If you are interested in finding additional help on knowing how to say no, check out The Cool Spot website. The Cool Spot is a great resource for finding tips on learning to say no successfully, and on managing drinking and peer pressure.
Standing Up to Peer Pressure
Peer Pressure is a real thing and all people encounter some sort of peer pressure at some point in their lives. Part of learning to say no is learning to say no to peer pressure. “Peer pressure is when your classmates, or other people your age, try to get you to do something. It is so easy to give in to peer pressure because everyone wants to fit in and be liked.”
The Real Dangers of Drinking
Drinking alcohol can seem fun, and can be fun. But the damage done through excessive drinking far outweighs the personal highs. Some college students even develop drinking problems while in college. If you are going to drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink underage. Take a designated driver with you when you go out. Ask a friend to hold you accountable, someone you can trust to make sure you don’t drink too much. And know when to say no. If you are having trouble with excessive or mismanaged drinking, talk immediately to your counselor, advisor or parents, or seek help at an organization like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Don’t allow drinking to take over your life, or cost you your life. Drink Responsibly.
Tame Your Party Animal
If partying is something you really struggle with and you’ve seen it get in the way of academics, or you fear it might, consider some other options. Maybe now is not the right time to enroll full time in college. Maybe you need to take some time to work a full or part time job and go to school to help keep you on track. Maybe allowing yourself some time to discover what the world has to offer through a gap year will help tame your inner party animal. If you fear that you will succumb to too much partying while you are in college, talk to your parents, school counselor or advisor. Get some one on one advice on actions you can take to tame your party animal so you can get the most value out of your college experience when you enroll.
If you are going to party, be smart about it. There are simple choices you make ahead of time to make sure you are making the right choices later. Here are just a few tips to help you party smart.
- If you’re going out, go out in a group. This will protect you from any unwanted harassment when you’re at a party or the club. Bringing friends along could also help you have someone there to hold you accountable for your actions too.
- Don’t drink and drive, take a designated driver with you. Work out a rotation between you and your friends so that everyone has a chance to party and takes a turn being the responsible one.
- Avoid clubs and parties on school nights when you might be tempted to stay up too late and miss classes, projects or tests the next day.
- Behave in the dorms and follow the school rules. Don’t be foolish about your partying, break rules and end up kicked out of school.
In the end, remember why you came to college in the first place: First and foremost you are in college to learn. Manage your social and academic time with a nice balance to make the most of your college experience.