College. When this word comes to mind, the definition varies from person to person. Many scholars would agree with the definition Merriam-Webster provides," A school in the U.S. that you go to after high school: a school that offers courses leading to a degree (such as a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree)". While many will perceive college as such, there are a numerous amount of people would associate better with the definition provided by Urban Dictionary," A magical place where it is rumored that learning takes place, although to those who enter it is often described differently afterward, as a beautiful land in which beer flows in amber currents next to a golden pasture, where virgins lie naked with gentle smiles upon their calm, inviting faces; but more precisely, a Shangri-La rite of passage into adulthood which involves rampant consumption of alcoholic beverages, flagrant and promiscuous sexual behavior, and a general and fundamental disregard for any form of responsibility by its habitants". Both of these can be seen as viable definitions, although these definitions become expectations of what your college experience should entail.
You come into college with such high standards from yourself and everyone around you. Your family expects your best effort and good grades, your friends expect you to have elaborate party stories from each weekend. As you come into college you expect to balance both, but that doesn't turn out to be the case. I have come to realize however, and you should to, that it is okay to choose one or the other, or neither at all if that is what pleases you! Coming to college I expected to take in the party aspect and have an exuberant social life; I was mistaken. Just because you come to college doesn't mean you change as a person, although for some reason this is what I had drilled in my brain. For a while I thought that I was the odd one out because I wasn't like everyone else with their weekend routines; drink, party, sleep, repeat. To me, it's just a waste of time, energy and money.
On college campuses, partying and drinking are the norm and actually glorified. Each weekend you have people discussing their drunk adventures and sharing their snapchat's that they have no shame for. At first you may think, what is wrong with this? But what is wrong is most people who take part in this are under the age of 21. Take a step back from this mysterious fish bowl of a college campus, and this is not the norm. Yes, when people become of legal age they enjoy themselves and go out on weekends to the bars and indulge in the party scene. But being in a dingy, dark, dirty basement of a frat house with numerous sweaty, scantily clad dressed girls surrounding you, with a Spotify playlist acting as DJ; this is not the normal occurrence. Neither is guys walking around in and out of places with backpacks filled with booze that they guard with their life. What do people find attractive and/or normal about this?
Once you take a step back from the college realm and take a good look at things, you will realize it is perfectly acceptable to not want to be a part of this. From most adults and outsiders, its probably looked at like a good thing. College is certainly not the real world, and this aspect of it certainly is not. There are other things to do besides being part of the party scene. Even though 4 out of 5 college students drink, it's okay to be that one person who doesn't. Just because everyone is doing something, 1. Does not mean it’s right and 2. Does not mean you have to take part in it. Chances are, you are making a much better choice than you think.
When people go out they don't encounter the risks. Those photos of your drunken nights you post? Teachers or future employers will probably see them. Blatantly carrying alcohol down streets and into places? Not the best idea. The number of times people get arrested for drinking in one night is outrageous. Just because it happened on one weekend in your college years, does not mean that it won't be out there forever and possibly affect your future. 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking. Needless to say, there are much better things you could be doing with your life.
Drinking may seem like it is the heart and soul of college, but you are really here to be getting a better education and moving forward in your life to bigger and better things. Next time you need a good reminder of why you are here, just think of all the people in under privileged countries who don't even have the chance to come to get an education. Would they think wasting your money, time and education on drinking and getting caught is a good idea? Just a little food for thought the next time you pick up that handle of alcohol or post yet another drunken Instagram pic. P.S. just because you post one each weekend, doesn't mean you're cool.
*Definitions within the article were taken from the official Merriam-Webster and Urban Dictionary websites. Statistics regarding college and drinking are provided from the US Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health.*