During my freshman year of college, I spent weekends in a frat basement that always smelled pungently of urine. I could tell you which houses were the best and which had the least foul-tasting jungle juice. In short, I was a frat rat for the better part of my college beginnings. But now that the novelty has worn off three years later, I’m left wondering if seniors are too old for frat parties.
My fraternity appearances were cut short my sophomore year due to Miss ‘Rona’s treacherous reign across the world. Within a matter of days, I found myself isolated across the country in my hometown, spending my Friday nights watching Tiger King with my parents instead of handstanding at some keg somewhere.
When school started again, going to frats was the last thing on my mind — especially with the pandemic in full swing. Before I knew it, a whole year had passed since the initial shutdown. Instead of shotgunning Claws at a frat dayger, I was drinking Applebee’s $5 margs on an outdoor patio on my 21st birthday. And now that I’m old enough to experience Trivia Nights, Thirsty Thursdays, and weekend specials at my college’s local bars and clubs, I’ve found myself wondering: are my frat days… over?
How old is too old to go to a frat party? Does such a boundary even exist? I was motivated to investigate.
How old is too old to go to a frat party? Does such a boundary even exist?
The Instagram Stories poll feature proved to be a godsend as I posed my question to my small but mighty Instagram following. During the 24-hour duration, I received 89 answers to my question: “instead of going to a bar or club, is going to a frat party as a senior (or 21+) kind of embarrassing?”
54% said yes. 46% said no. This didn’t help. There was only a mere difference of seven votes. So, I decided to take it to the people. (All of my sources asked to remain anonymous.)
Brynn*, 21, thinks that, since COVID knocked a year off of some students’ college experiences, there’s no real age limit as long as you’re a recent grad. “Because of COVID, we seniors are still able to go because we missed a year,” Brynn tells Her Campus. “I also feel like if you graduated and were in the frat and you wanna go back and see your friends, it’s kind of allowed. For a little.”
For Clara*, 21, there’s a more specific set of rules. “If you’re in college, then it’s fair game,” she says. “Unless you’re 5+ years older than the oldest person there. Then it’s weird.”
But not everyone agrees that going to a frat during your college years is entirely acceptable. If anything, they see the capability of drinking legally at bars and clubs as a more age-appropriate choice when it comes to partying: Mona*, 21, urges her fellow 21-year olds to “go to a bar, grandma!”
“Because of COVID, we seniors are still able to go because we missed a year.”
Frida*, 21, is a junior. But she agrees that once you fall under the “upperclassman” umbrella, it may be time to kiss the puke-covered floors of the Phi Delt basement goodbye (air kiss, of course, because… ew).
“Junior year is pushing it,” Frida tells Her Campus. “Senior year, if you can go to the bars, is actually sad.”
While the input from my fellow girlies was appreciated, I longed to know more. I wanted to know, once and for all: How old is too old to go to a frat? I decided to go to the root of all frat parties: a frat boy himself. After messaging frat boys from schools across the country, Chad*, 22, was able to give me an answer.
“Whaddup, homeskillet,” Chad wrote (yes, really. I wish I was joking). “I’d say if you have friends in the frat then 24, but it’s definitely different. You can’t be spitting game or whatever to 18-year-olds if you’re graduated, but if you’re older and just visiting the boys, I think it’s fine.”
As the closing sequence to my investigation, I wanted to put my own comfort to the test. Luckily, I live a few blocks away from a frat house — a frat house that just so happened to be throwing a rager this past weekend. So, I slapped on my trusted, ratty frat shoes and black crop top and began my walk of shame.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” age to be a college student, meaning there’s no “right” or “wrong” time to have college experiences — including frat parties.
As I rounded the corner to the soft boom of “Mo Bamba” and smelled that all-too-familiar smell of cheap beer, sweat, and something so indistinguishably horrible, I decided that I’d much rather be in bed with some wine and a horror movie, if I’m being honest.
Blame burnout, blame growing up, but I think I’m done with frat parties. And while I may have aged out of the frat rat lifestyle, there’s nothing wrong with having fun in the way you want to have fun (safely and responsibly, of course). If you want to head out to a frat this weekend — even as a 21+ adult or senior — then go for it. Don’t let other people’s judgment kill your vibe. 2019 data from the National Center for Education Statistics found that 7% to 8% of full-time undergraduate students at public and private nonprofit institutions were ages 25 to 34. At private for-profit institutions, that number was way higher at 38%. In reality, there’s no “right” or “wrong” age to be a college student, meaning there’s no “right” or “wrong” time to have college experiences — including frat parties.
Just make sure you’re not lurking around those frat basements for too long. You’re better than that, bestie. We all are.
*Names have been changed.