College is a weird time for everybody. Most are just discovering new independence and figuring out how everything really works. In this new chapter, you will meet many different types of people. All of these people will have a different standard about drinking; some are spending more hours inside of a library than they are outside, and some merely love the parties and could care less about the education. Most are somewhere in the middle. From somebody who has been through four years of college already, I'm here to tell you that it's OK to put down the drink.

In college, there is an abundance of pressure to drink, even before the school year starts. There are many parties that everybody on your dorm floor are going to, and if you stay home you're the outlier. Especially Freshman year, before you've found your niche, it's a struggle really finding out where your boundaries are and what you are and are not willing to do. Adding alcohol to the mix, just causes more of a disaster. (Did you also know it's illegal if you are under 21?)

You have spent the past 18 years figuring out your own moral compass, your right from wrong, your good and bad. Do you know what alcohol does to that? It takes north and points it south. It manipulates you, and causes you to do and say things that you would never have done or said before. It causes you to seriously believe things that are morally wrong are morally right. And we love it- being able to be somebody else just by taking a drink. We lost the ability to normally socialize, and rely on who we are with lower inhibitions to socialize for us. So, know that when your friends love drinking with you, they love drinking with the person that alcohol turns you into, not you. Then, what happens when you remove alcohol from the equation? Are you not as fun? You don't say or do daring things anymore? If there's nothing left when you remove the alcohol, is that the kind of life you planned on having?

Besides the obvious side effects of drinking, it goes a lot deeper to the core of who you are. You are literally, glass by glass pouring more and more stress into your life.

Wait... weren't you drinking to relieve stress? Think again.

Rumor on the street is that a night of going out relieves your stress. Wrong. You try to drink to deal with life, and the less you are actually dealing with life, and therefore you need to drink more. It's a vicious cycle that is virtually never ending.

All in all, drinking in college is the norm. However, I hope that you understand that it doesn't have to be the norm. You do not have to drink to fit in. You will find many friends that don't want to partake, it just takes a little digging. It's okay to put down the drink.