Parties are one of the most exciting aspects of college for many students. While high school parties were probably fun, college takes the scene to a whole new level. Feared by parents and revered by students everywhere, they are part of the total college experience and will likely produce some vivid memories.
Your first party will probably take place within days (if not the same day) that you arrive on campus. Now that you are free of parental control, it might feel like you’ve won the independence jackpot. But hold on a minute, freedom is not always what it seems. Since you are now in the real world and responsible for yourself, there are some genuine concerns you need to address to prepare yourself for college-level partying. Read on to find out how to make the most of your first few college parties.
1. Travel in a Pack
There is strength in numbers, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to your first few parties at school. If you can’t bring the tribe, at least bring a buddy. Make a pact with your group to check on each other periodically to make sure everyone is doing OK. Parties at college can be overcrowded and overwhelming, with hundreds of students in attendance. Be sure that everyone has a plan to stay connected before you even enter the area; that way, you can keep track of each other.
2. Choose a DRM (Designated Risk Manager)
If possible, choose a designated risk manager for the evening. This is pretty much the same thing as a designated driver, but he or she will oversee the general welfare of each person in the group. If someone has a little too much to drink or needs assistance, they should be able to rely on the DRM to get them back to their dorm safely. This doesn’t mean other members of the group have the green light to act irresponsibly, however. Your DRM is a friend doing you a favor, not a babysitter.
Be sure to switch out your designated risk manager for each party you attend, so one person doesn’t get saddled with the whole burden. You should make it fair and never take this person for granted. Some students don’t care for substances and will willingly care for the group in exchange for friendship and camaraderie but be careful not to take advantage of this kindness. It won’t hurt you to sit out for a night and hang out with your more responsible friend or let them kick back a little bit too.
Also, if a friend does go above and beyond to ensure your safety and well-being, be sure to give thanks where thanks are due. Take them to dinner or get them a small gift to show you appreciate their willingness to look after your safety and well-being.
3. BYOB If You Can
While many college parties charge a cover that includes alcohol, bringing your own is a wise idea. If that’s not an option, then make sure you are present and aware when your drink is poured. Yes, you need to drink responsibly. Part of that responsibility is knowing who prepared your drink and precisely what is in it. It’s not too hard to ascertain what’s going on when someone is pouring out of a keg for a line of partygoers. However, it may get a little murkier if you are invited to a private room for a mixed drink.
Another caveat—Don’t try to find your lost drink. If it has not been in your hand the entire time then you have no idea where it has been. It only takes a moment to slip something into an unattended drink, and suddenly you have no recollection of the previous night. Keep your drink within view at all times, and don’t accept drinks from strangers. It’s a lot like Halloween; only not everyone is a well-intentioned Mom doling out snickers. Be aware.
4. Consider Avoiding Alcohol
Here’s an interesting idea. Don’t drink at all. Your first few parties will likely be so exciting and engaging that you probably won’t need a substance to make them any more interesting. Not imbibing will also give you a unique vantage point into how some of your new acquaintances behave. While some students will be out of control, you will be at a party in complete control of your own actions, and nobody will be none the wiser. If you are embarrassed about not having a drink in hand, wash out an empty beer bottle and just keep refilling it with water. Nobody will notice.
5. Bring a Fully Charged Phone and a Charger With You
After several hours of partying and texting back and forth with your friends, your phone might run low on juice. However, the end of the night is the worst time for this to happen. You are going to want to get out of there sooner or later, and you need to leave all your options open. Hopefully, you and your troupe have chosen a designated time to leave together and a safe meeting spot, but if plans go awry, you will want to get an UBER or LYFT to transport you safely back to the dorms.
A backup charger can fit in your pocket or purse and can serve as an emergency lifeline in case you need help from your friends. It also ensures you won’t need to use a charger from some creepy frat guy whose room is just down that dark hallway over there.
6. Pack Some Tissues
If you’re a girl, you will want to throw a few packs of tissues from the dollar store in with the rest of your stuff. In a pinch, just grab a wad of toilet paper from your room. Why? One of the most well-kept secret horrors of college parties is that peeing can be problematic for those of the female persuasion.
Your fellow classmates who know the ropes are probably accustomed to the whole barbaric drill. Still, if you are even mildly modest, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you are forced to share bathroom space with drunken strangers. And although they may be the nicest of girls or guys, you might not be comfortable with that on your first run.
Further, if you are at a fraternity house, it’s unlikely that the boys have thought ahead about the unique toiletry needs of women, so there will be no toilet paper at all by the two-hour mark. Bringing your own will ensure you don’t have to drip dry and also give you the option to sneak outside and do your business behind a bush if you must.
7. Make Wise Choices
You don’t need to attend every party you are invited too, and for the ones you do attend, you are under no obligation to drink or use substances. Be aware that the cops may (and probably will) show up eventually and don’t freak out if this happens. They have likely broken up this same party dozens of times over the years. It’s what they do. Stay calm, and don’t draw attention to yourself.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable or feel in danger, make sure you tell someone. This is where having your tribe on standby is so essential. Lots of things can go wrong after a night of drinking, and you may find yourself in unexpected situations where you need a little help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
The day after a college party will give you plenty to think about, particularly if you drank and aren’t feeling up to par. This is an excellent time to reflect on the previous night’s events. Did you make some great memories? Was it enjoyable for you? Did you feel like you handled things safely and responsibly?
Alternatively, do you have a terrible hangover you never want to experience again? Are you embarrassed about your behavior? Do you feel like you could have made some different choices?
No matter how you feel about college parties, the important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable attending them. They are certainly not a prerequisite to graduation, yet it is unlikely that most students will leave school before attending their fair share of these events. If you find they are simply not your style, stick to your convictions, and make friends who prefer sober activities.
If you enjoyed yourself and want more, consider how the experience contributes to your education on the whole. Set proper boundaries for yourself and know your own limits. Always follow the above tips to stay safe. Above all, be true to yourself. If you find that you are imbibing more than you would like, there are plenty of campus resources to help you with a plan to cut back or quit. You will find you are definitely not alone with these concerns, as hundreds of students before you have shared them.
College will present many opportunities for unsupervised partying and activities that you may or may not be ready for. The most important thing to realize is that although you are no longer chained to rules and curfews, you have the responsibility to care for your own body and mind now. While the freedom college affords you may at first seem like a one-way ticket to do whatever you want, the consequences of your actions will be yours to bear alone from this point on.
It may take a few nasty hangovers to realize what you truly want but be sure to take your them and turn them into the best learning experience for you. Then, move forward—knowing that you are in control of your life, your choices, and your destiny.
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