It’s called “the college experience” for a reason. And whether you’re forming new friendships, moving away from home, or simply embracing your newfound independence, college is the time to embark on adventures and dive into experiences that you wouldn’t have known in high school.
And that includes college parties.
Thanks to shows like Euphoria, partying has become glamorized and imprinted in our culture, and I’m the first one to say that college parties can be dangerous—and none of that danger can be hidden behind cool lighting and cute outfits. Then again, I’m also the first person to say that, for me, parties were some of the best times I had in college.
The fact of the matter is, it’s extremely common for college students to party. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 50% of college students aged 18-22 participated in drinking and other party activities at least once a month.
It’s easy to say “don’t party in college, it’s dangerous.” However, for some college students, partying is inevitable. And, if you’re going to do it, at least do it safely.
Her Campus talked to 10 recent graduates to hear out their tips for partying safely in college. Consider this some big sister advice. We won’t tell mom, okay?
Sydney, Pitt ‘22: Stay away from the jungle juice
“Stay out of the “jungle!” When drinking at house parties, stick to unopened, bottled, and canned drinks. Jungle juice is dangerous because you don’t know what’s in it or how strong it is. If you do decide to take the journey into the jungle (juice), make sure you see a guy from the house drink it first.”
Brooke, DUQUESNE ‘22: Always stay with a group
“Go out in groups! Don’t be the drunk friend that thinks you can be independent and walk home all alone. It’s dangerous. Never leave your friends at the bar or at a party—always stick with the group you left with!”
Abby, Chapman ‘22: Be aware of your surroundings
“When you’re drinking, just make sure to be aware of your surroundings. Notice who is around you, and notice if there’s another person stuck in a potential predatory or uncomfortable situation. Be the person that you would need. Don’t be afraid to step in because more likely than not, your instincts are correct. And if they are wrong then no harm is done. Stepping in doesn’t make you rude, it makes you someone’s savior. If you see something, say or do something.”
Zoë, LMU ‘22: Party with people you trust
“Something I would say when it comes to partying safely in college is to go out with friends you trust, especially if it’s to a bigger party—like a frat or house party—where you don’t really know anyone! It can be easy to go out with not-so-great friends who may ditch you, so making sure you go with friends you know you can count on (and that can count on you!) makes for a way safer night out.”
Van, Chapman ‘22: Document your (and your friends’) whereabouts
“Save the name of bars and/or the addresses of parties, pregames, postgames, and homes of the people you’re with in a note on your phone. That way, you or someone else can easily organize Ubers and other rides safely, without the worry of mistyping something or going to the wrong address. And if you lose an item (or a friend) you can easily retrace your steps to find it (or them). You can share these notes with your friends and make lists of everybody’s whereabouts and party locations that night! During my study abroad, we did this with local eateries and bars, was super helpful because we all couldn’t remember the exact addresses, but we always kind of knew where we were.
Allie, Pepperdine ‘22: Know your boundaries when it comes to partying
“I think just being cautious of your own boundaries and what you feel comfortable with is super important, and to not focus on just maintaining a certain social status! It’s super easy to get caught up in being in situations that you know you don’t necessarily want to be a part of just because you want to feel included. Understanding your limits and boundaries and surrounding yourself with people who respect them is the best way to still have fun but also feel comfortable!”
Sammie, RMU ‘22: Follow your instincts
“If someone is making you uncomfortable in a party situation or something just feels off, do not force yourself to stay there! Chances are, your body knows when something is wrong. So trust your gut. Text a friend, call an Uber, and find a safe way out of there are soon as you can. Always follow your instincts!”
TJ, NYU ‘22: Take care of yourself, and your body, first
“Pregame with your own stuff. Stick with only one kind of liquor for the night to avoid a hangover. Before a wild weekend, take an AZO, carb up, and hydrate all day before. And if you go home with someone—use protection and pee after sex to avoid a UTI. Oh, and DO NOT have sex with a man that love-bombs you all night. Not worth the extra body!”
Kayleigh, Pitt ‘22: Don’t let the fun parts of the party lifestyle distract you from the dangers of it
“Don’t have the ‘it won’t be me’ mindset! A lot of us hear these crazy stories about what happens at parties in college, but when your first few go well, it’s easy to get in the ‘it won’t be me’ mindset. However, these incidents are so frequently heard about for a reason, and the last thing you want to do is let your guard down and end up suffering the consequences (like ending up on the floor of your dorm communal bathroom after getting a drink from a stranger). So, BYOB when you can to parties, and never let your drink out of your sight! Having your own drink not only helps you stay safe from getting roofied, but it also helps you know exactly how much you’re drinking. Have fun, but don’t stop being careful after your first few parties!”
Julianna, Chapman ‘22: It’s okay to say no and stay sober
From yours truly, a piece of advice: it is 100% okay to go to parties, bars, or clubs and not drink. And guess what? Nobody will be mad at you for it. As an anxious introvert, I’ve oftentimes leaned on alcohol—depended on alcohol—to transform me into a social butterfly. And by the time the buzz wears off, I’m more anxious than when I first started drinking. It’s not cute.
If you’re in the mood to go to a party, try out your social skills, and not drink, there is absolutely no shame in saying no to that White Claw and opting for a sober night instead. By staying sober, you can keep your anxieties at bay by being the DD, and ensuring your friends get home safely (which is always a big source of my anxiety…I’m the mom friend). Not only can you feel more in control, but it’s also an amazing opp for people watching. I mean, have you seen a frat party sober? So. Much. Content.
Partying in college is a part of the experience, and I’m the last one to tell you that you shouldn’t do it. Not because I’m some kind of college party advocate, but because I know that parties happen—and chances are, you might find yourself at one eventually. So, your 9 new big sisters and I will leave you with this: be safe, be smart, be responsible, and look out for yourself and each other. Or we’ll tell mom. Promise?