Freshman year in college is a magical time in life where you finally shed the often over-protective supervision of parents and strike out into the world on your own. You might imagine college as being the way it is portrayed in movies like Animal House and Old School, and you’re probably looking forward to that kind of freedom.
The problem is though, without the protective oversight, it’s really easy to get sucked into the party scene by your new classmates and friends, which can negatively affect your schoolwork and finances. If you thought the peer-pressure in high school was tough, imagine being ostracized all by yourself at a college campus 2,000 from home because you are thought of as a prude.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to choose between partying and drinking to oblivion or being a social outcast. You can find the middle ground if you know what your values are, what you want to gain from college (besides a degree), and what you want out of life in general. Social experience is one of the greatest takeaways from higher education, in addition to the diploma that will help you score an entry-level job, but for students who get caught up in the parties, booze, and drugs, it can be an experience they’ll regret for several years after leaving school.
Most students are on a pretty tight budget, even those with jobs or scholarships. For many, ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese are the only affordable culinary choices. Alcohol is an expensive habit. First off, underage drinking is highly frowned upon, but let’s be real here because we know the reality is that most students under 21 are going to participate in drinking regardless.
The first 6-pack of beer probably won’t come across as costing a whole lot, but when you start buying kegs, wine, or bottles of hard liquor, the costs add up – not to mention the cost of mixed drinks at bars and clubs. If you are already struggling just to eat, how can you justify spending even more money on alcohol? That’s just one argument you can present when your friends try to persuade you into partying and drinking too much.
It is a sad reality that in the US, college debt can haunt students for decades after graduation. It’s one thing if you find a job right out of college which allows you to make your student loan payments. But if you are kicked out of school for failing grades, the commission of a crime, or other act requiring disciplinary action as a result of too much partying, you won’t be able to land a decent job or make your student loan payments.
To compound the problem of being kicked out of school, you’ll still have the debt you racked up during your unsuccessful tenure at college, and you’ll forever have to list your dismissal from school on your resume. Asking yourself if those consequences are worth the social status of a partier can put things into perspective and help you stand up to peer pressure.
Fortunately, there are more young adults today who are focused on their academics than those who are insistent upon partying most of their campus days away. Also, as the economy continues to struggle in its recovery, more students are being given scholarships. The repercussions of losing those scholarships are more detrimental than ever – especially for those students who are already on a glide path for a career in professional sports or are being recruited and groomed for a corporate position.
Aligning yourself with fellow students who socialize, but party only minimally, is one way to be a part of the crowd while still maintaining your boundaries. And speaking of boundaries, be clear with friends up front of what your priorities are and then act consistently with those priorities. Remember this: anyone who disrespects your boundaries isn’t worth having around.
As cheesy as it sounds, keeping a list handy of everything you stand to lose if you choose
to party too much compromise your academic focus can be helpful. Regularly reminding yourself of what your future goals are is one of the most surefire ways to stick to your guns when friends try to pressure you into partying.